Taliban govt approves first budget

Published January 14, 2022
A man distributes bread to Afghan women outside a bakery in Kabul, Afghanistan. — AP/File
A man distributes bread to Afghan women outside a bakery in Kabul, Afghanistan. — AP/File

KABUL: The Taliban said on Thursday they have approved their first budget for Afghanistan since the Islamists returned to power in August, with no mention of foreign aid. International assistance represented 40 per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP and made up 80pc of its budget when the former US-backed government was in control.

When it crumbled in August and the Taliban took command, Western powers froze billions of dollars in aid and assets in what the United Nations described as an “unprecedented fiscal shock”.

“For the first time in the last two decades, we made a budget that is not dependent on foreign aid and that is a very big achievement for us,” said Taliban finance ministry spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal.

The budget of 53.9 billion afghanis ($508m) approved on Wednesday will cover the first quarter of 2022 and is almost entirely dedicated to funding government institutions.

The 508m budget meant for first quarter of the year

Haqmal said state workers, many of whom have not been paid for months, will start receiving salaries by the end of January.

Women staff, who have mostly been blocked from returning to their jobs, will also be paid. “We count them like they have come back to work. We have not fired them,” Haqmal said.

Around 4.7bn afghanis will be spent on development projects including transport infrastructure. “It’s a small amount but that’s what we can do now,” Haqmal said.

The Taliban exchequer is funded by “our own resources” including tax, trade and mining revenue, he added.

The Islamists are set to announce their first annual budget in March, shifting the fiscal year to match Afghanistan’s solar calendar.

Since they took power Western nations have grappled with the task of channelling aid to the nation without financing its new rulers.

Meanwhile, millions are facing hunger this winter as a cash, fuel and food crisis grips the impoverished country.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Updated 22 May, 2022

Back in the game?

WITH the new government struggling to make crucial decisions independently, Pakistan’s ‘parallel governance...
22 May, 2022

Currency concerns

IN the midst of the power struggle in the country, the rupee slid past 200 to a dollar in the interbank market last...
Updated 22 May, 2022

Shireen Mazari’s arrest

Abuse of power can never be condoned, regardless of who it targets or from where it emanates.
Updated 21 May, 2022

Band-aid measure

A more pronounced impact would have been possible had the cap on energy prices been removed.
21 May, 2022

Bilawal’s defence

BILAWAL Bhutto-Zardari’s robust defence at the UN headquarters of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Feb 24 trip...
21 May, 2022

Yasin Malik’s conviction

THE conviction of veteran Kashmiri freedom fighter and head of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Yasin Malik by an...