As southern Kyrgyzstan continues to smolder, the country’s provisional government is thinking about opening a new income stream. Provisional leaders are seeking to slap a value-added tax of 12 percent, plus excise duties, on fuel imports destined for the Manas Transit Center.
Under an agreement negotiated in 2009 the United States and its contractors are exempt from paying Kyrgyz duties and taxes on fuel imports for Manas. However, in late May, Bishkek unilaterally tried to impose an import tax, causing a brief disruption in operations at Manas, a key logistics hub for the US and NATO war effort in Afghanistan. Ultimately, the new tax was suspended until at least June 20, allowing time for new negotiations. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
From the provisional government’s viewpoint, the tax question is a matter of fairness. About 12 million gallons of TS-1 Russian grade jet fuel are consumed every month at Manas.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.