A tax dispute is disrupting operations at the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz interim government is charging tax on fuel imports for Manas, and the US government is refusing to pay, in what has the potential to develop into a major diplomatic standoff between Bishkek and Washington.
Under the terms of the Manas Transit Center leasing agreement, fuel suppliers to the base are exempt from Kyrgyz customs and taxes. Article 7 of the agreement signed last year states: “Purchases of goods and services in the Kyrgyz Republic by the US government or on its behalf to implement this agreement are not subject to any taxes, customs fees and similar payments on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic.”
However, Edil Baisalov, the provisional government’s chief of staff, confirmed to EurasiaNet.org that Kyrgyz customs are charging tax on all fuel imports into Kyrgyzstan without exception. Baisalov said US military contractors and local companies involved with fuel supplies to the base would no longer enjoy special privileges.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.