Bismillah, hailing from Ali Kala area on the outskirts of Ghazni City, told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban had imposed 5,000 to 10,000 Pakistani rupees in annual tax on shopkeepers.
“The Taliban come here to collect money from shopkeepers. If anyone refuses to pay, the militants beat him,” he said, asking for a cut in the tax rate for shops.
He argued the whole investment of a shopkeeper was less than 20,000 Pakistani rupees and paying a high tax was beyond him.
Rahmatullah, a resident of the Zara Kala village of Andar district, said the Taliban had slapped an annual tax on shopkeepers in his area. Those irrigating their farmlands through solar pumps were also tazed, he added.
“Taliban have been collecting money from landowners who own solar systems since three years, they take 3,000 to 3,500 Pakistani rupees from these people,” he said.
A person who refused to pay tax in this area was severely beaten up by Taliban militants, he said.
A tribal elder from Ghazni city, Haji Abdul Manan, said that besides Ghazni city, the Taliban were collecting tax from many other areas of province.
He criticized the Taliban, saying the financial situation of Ghazni people was not good enough to pay illegal levies. He urged residents to rise against illegal activities of the militants.
Fahim Amarkhel, provincial police spokesman, accused the Taliban of forcibly collecting money from people in Ghazni. But security officials were trying to prevent the illegal activity, he said.
“People should also support us and they should understand that Taliban are not their well-wishers. Therefore, they should avoid paying money to the rebel group,” he added.
Meanwhile, the militants acknowledged collecting taxes from people. The group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said they had imposed a tax on some shops in Ghazni.
“The tax ranges between Rs500 to Rs3,500. Poor shopkeepers with are exempted from this,” he said, warning against the extortion of money from people under different pretexts or by force.
Ghazni is one of the provinces where transactions are made in Pakistani rupees. Nawa district and many areas of the province have been under Taliban’s control for the past several years.