Taliban prepares first budget without international aid

A spokesman for the ministry said the Taliban government’s finance ministry in Afghanistan has prepared a draft state budget, which will be funded without international aid for the first time in 20 years.

Its development comes as Afghanistan plunges into a deepening economic crisis that threatens to turn into a humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) warning of an impending “avalanche of famine”.

Ahmed Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for the finance ministry, did not specify the amount of the draft budget – which will run until December 2022 – but told AFP on Friday that it must be approved by the Afghan government before being released. “We’re trying to finance it with our household income, and we believe we can,” he said earlier in an interview with public television RTA, excerpts of which were broadcast on Twitter.

International aid to Afghanistan was suspended after the Taliban returned to power in August, with Western countries freezing billions of dollars in assets held abroad.

The 2021 budget, prepared by the previous regime under the auspices of the IMF, was shared between 219 billion Afghans in international aid (1.75 billion euros at the current rate) and 217 billion in revenue among Afghans.

The exchange rate then ranged from around 90 Afghans to one euro, but since the withdrawal of the Taliban the local currency has continued to open up. On Friday it was at over 120 afghanis against the euro. Mr Huckmal further acknowledged that several months’ salary still owed the officers, assuring that “we are doing our best” to settle the arrears before the end of the year. However, he warned that a new pay scale was being worked out.

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