Taliban expand economic team as Afghan crisis deepens By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – An Afghan money trader carries bundles full of banknotes to an exchange market. This exchange market was reopened after banks and markets were reopened by the Taliban in Kabul (Afghanistan), September 4, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
(Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Taliban government bolstered its economic team on Tuesday, naming a commerce minister and two deputies as the group tries to revive a financial system in shock from the abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign aid.
Zabihullah Murjahid, Taliban spokesperson said Nooruddin Azizi, a Panjshir-based businessman, has been named acting minister of commerce. Azizi will start his work immediately.
Azizi is joining the minister for economic affairs and acting finance minister, who were both announced earlier. This team faces an enormous task.
The Taliban face a major challenge in their 20-year history of being forced from power after a U.S. led campaign.
Mujahid stated that they were working hard to solve the problem.
Although he did not offer any concrete suggestions on how to achieve this, he did say that any government employees who were unpaid from July at the latest would soon start getting salaries.
The economic pressures on Afghanistan’s government have seen prices rise for staples such as flour, fuel, and rice. Long queues still form outside banks due to strict rationing withdrawals.
Although some humanitarian aid is beginning to arrive, and trade across borders with Pakistan has been limited, severe cash shortages are crippling daily economic activity. The destruction of decades-old infrastructure has also led to a lot of disruption.
The West is now looking at how to address a rebel group who led up until August a devastating insurgency against an American-backed government.
Amruddin was a former member the Kunduz provincial council. He said that many of Afghanistan’s produce went to waste because of their involvement in war.
Kunduz is the breadbasket of Afghanistan. But, Kunduz’s economic conditions, and especially Kunduz’s, are very poor. A lot of problems meant that farmers could not obtain products such as melon or grapes from Kabul.
In the cities, normally bustling commercial areas are unusually quiet, and impromptu markets have sprung up where people try to sell their household goods to raise cash.
The Asian Development Bank reported that 47% of Kabul’s inhabitants lived in poverty before the Taliban overtook Kabul. Another third lived on less than $1.90 per daily.
Many people were happy to see the Taliban defeated and the ousted Afghan forces captured by foreign troops end their 20-year long conflict. However, there is growing concern about the economy.
Afghanistan’s central banking has been prevented from accessing over $9 billion of foreign reserves. Mujahid stated that the Taliban had stolen millions of dollars owned by the state before they entered Kabul.
Mujahid said that officials are trying to discover what happened to the cash that was missing from banks after the collapse of the government under President Ashraf Gani.
Private citizens can only withdraw $200 per week or 20,000 Afghani per week from banks, and some people claim they are not able to access this money. In the longer-term, the shortage of work is potentially more dangerous.
Unemployment is a problem for many people in Kabul, one resident stated. The name of the person he did not want to be identified was “Unfortunately there aren’t any job opportunities.” He claimed he had earned between 1,000 and 1,500 afghani daily before the Taliban arrived, but that he now has nothing.