Marble imports land local industry in trouble: traders

KABUL (PAN): Some traders on Sunday complained marbles imports from Pakistan, China and Iran have had a negative impact on their business. Currently, there are 100 marble factories operating in Kabul.

Abdul Ali Jafari, a stone-cutting factory official, said one cubic metre of marble cost 700 afghanis ($14.1) to 4,000afs, but the same amount of Pakistani marble was sold for 300afs to 1,000afs.

Jafari said one cubic metre of Iranian marble was priced from 1,500afs to 3,500afs and the Chinese variety from 1,000afs to 2,300afs. High demand for imported marbles was due to its low price and good quality, he added.

He asked the Afghan government to prevent the smuggling of stones into the country and support local industry by reducing prices of materials, providing 24 hours electricity and dealing with landmine threats. In commercial areas, the price of a kilowatt of electricity is 10afs.

Another trader, Inayatullah, said deposits of best marbles were available in Ghazni, Maidan Wardak and Bamyan provinces, but the stones could not be used due to insecurity there.

He said since marbles from Iran and Pakistan were not imported to western Herat province, local industry there had mushroomed. “People in Kabul also prefer to buy Pakistani marble, because they are cheap,” he added.

"I used Pakistani marbles for being cheap in my four-storey building," Najmuddin, a resident of Mirwais Maidan area told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Analysts also say the Afghan government should support domestic products.

Taj Mohammad Akbar, a professor at the economy faculty of Kabul University said the government should provide all possible facilities to Afghan traders and industrialists. "If the government does not take serious steps, it means disloyalty to the nation," he said.

Due to the free market, the government could not prevent imports of mines from outside, the mines ministry spokesman said.

Jawad Omar said the ministry had sent a proposal to President Karzai on how to support domestic products.

Without going into details, Omar said a considerable improvement in support for local industry would be achieved if the policy was implemented.


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