Taliban prepare new Afghan budget without foreign aid

Members of the Taliban and airport gound staff workers stand next to a shipment of covid-19 coronavirus vaccine donated by the Chinese government at the Kabul airport in Kabul on December 8, 2021. PHOTO / AFP

Afghanistan's finance ministry under the new Taliban government has prepared a draft national budget that, for the first time in two decades, is funded without foreign aid, a spokesman said.
It comes as the country is mired in economic crisis and faces a looming humanitarian catastrophe the United Nations has called an "avalanche of hunger".  
Finance ministry spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal did not disclose the size of the draft budget -- which runs until December 2022 -- but told AFP it would go to the cabinet for approval before being published. 

"We are trying to finance it from our domestic revenues -- and we believe we can," he earlier told state television in an interview shared on Twitter.
Global donors suspended financial aid when the Taliban seized power in August and Western powers also froze access to billions of dollars in assets held abroad. 
The 2021 budget, put together by the previous administration under IMF guidance, projected a deficit despite 219 billion Afghanis in aid and grants and 217 billion from domestic revenue.

At that time the exchange rate was around 80 Afghanis to the dollar, but the local currency has been hammered since the Taliban's return, particularly in the past week, slumping to 130 on Monday before recovering Friday to around 100.
Haqmal accepted that public servants are still owed several months of wages, saying "we are trying our best" to make good on overdue pay by year-end.
He warned, however, a new pay scale had also been prepared.
 

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