Investors should have poured into industrial parks but even carpet manufacturers are staying away. Only eight of the country's 16 big and three small parks are up and running. The rest have remained shut even though land was distributed to potential investors.
The whole approach to investment has been so sloppy that authorities in the Chamber of Commerce and Industries were unable to say how many jeribs of land were distributed.
Authorities insist all industrial parks are modern. But the union of industrialists says the national unity government has failed to keep basic promises of land, security and electricity. Since AISA or Afghanistan Investment Support Agency was dismissed the process of land distribution has slowed a lot, the union says.
However, officials in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry say the distribution process was completed, and land given to investors in provinces like Balkh, Nangarhar and Herat.
But, since some investors insisted on land in and around Kabul the ministry was not able to oblige them, the authorities add. According to Musafer Quqandi, spokesperson for the commerce and industries ministry, "Investors want to invest in the heart of the country; no one is ready to invest in remote areas and provinces."
Land in Kabul may become available if the ministry's plan for a new industrial park project within the next two months in cooperation with the private sector takes off. Among the incentives to investors will be a three-year tax holiday and an assurance that the government will buy goods at a rate hike of 25 percent while tax on raw material imports will be decreased from 8 to 1 percent.
Mohammad Sarwar Danshed, second deputy to the president, says the government is committed to providing unconditional security to investors.
Meanwhile, the commerce and industry ministry intends to take back and re-allot land that was not put to use by investors. The ministry has to identify sleeping investors.
Two industrial parks each in Kabul, Nangarhar and Kandahar and one each in Balkh and Herat are active.
Seyamudin Psarlai, spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce and Industries says, "Out of the eight only the industrial park in Herat is well equipped – the rest provide basic services."