AUSTRALIA has lost 40 young men, sustained hundreds of seriously wounded troops and invested about $7.5 billion on war-fighting alone in Afghanistan – but that isn’t enough for an Afghan Government that now wants to tax us as we leave.
The regime of President Hamid Karzai has imposed a $3545 per container exit tax on every container leaving the country by road, including hundreds of loads of military equipment being removed by coalition forces.
Exemptions can be applied, but Australia has not been granted a waiver and without the correct paperwork each container will also be hit with a $1000 fine.
“The Government of Afghanistan has an established process for the imposition and collection of export fees on ISAF items departing Afghanistan by road,” Defence told News Corp Australia.
The Australian Defence Force’s first convoy of 55 armoured accommodation containers is waiting for clearance at the Pakistan border and as soon as it crosses the frontier Australia will be liable for a $200,000 exit tax.
“All countries are subject to this arrangement and the Australian shipment will be subject to the export fee once it crosses into Pakistan,” Defence said.
That has prompted Defence to shift most of its gear by air using RAAF C-17 transport jets and XC-130 Hercules planes from the airport at the main base at Tarin Kowt to Dubai.
“Defence is redeploying the vast majority of vehicles and equipment from Afghanistan by air, no more road movements are planned at this time,” it told News Limited.
Large items such as vehicles and containers will then be carried to Australia by ship from the huge port of Jebel Ali near Dubai.
Australia has given Afghanistan about $1 billion in civilian aid funds during the past five years and will provide about $200 million a year indefinitely.
In addition the military will “gift” millions of dollars worth of equipment, including hundreds of armoured accommodation containers, for use when coalition forces depart during the next 18 months.
Some of the 1300 containers have already been moved to the Australian base at Kandahar airfield where they will remain once the coalition leaves the vast air base after 2014.
Defence said it had engaged a commercial service provider for the movement of the Drethainer modules which were awaiting border clearance.
“This contract requires the ADF to absorb additional costs, such as customs fees,” it said.
“Defence is yet to be billed for these additional costs as the items remain in Afghanistan and contracted services have not been finalised.”
DOLLAR COST OF WAR
Total = $7.4b
HUMAN COST OF WAR
* 40 Australian soldiers killed in action
* Almost 300 wounded in action including dozens of amputees
* Up to 8000 troops predicted to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)