Taliban’s first annual Afghan budget foresees $501 million deficit

KABUL: Afghanistan is facing a budget deficit of 44 billion Afghans ($ 501 million) this fiscal year, the country’s Taliban authorities said on Saturday without clarifying how the gap between expected revenues and planned expenditures will be met.

When we announced the first annual national budget since the Taliban took over the war-torn country in August last year, Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said the government predicted spending of 231.4 billion Afghans and domestic revenues of 186.7 billion.

“The revenue is fundraising from departments related to customs, ministries and mines,” said Finance Ministry spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal.

Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, successive Western-backed governments have relied mostly on foreign aid. In August 2021, foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan, leading to the collapse of the government and the Taliban’s takeover.

The world has not yet officially recognized the Taliban government. The country is dealing with growing security issues and an economic meltdown, while aid organizations are finding out how they can help 50 million Afghans without giving the Taliban direct access to funds.

Hanafi said that the budget for the current financial year, which runs until next February, had been approved by the Council of Ministers and confirmed by the Taliban’s top leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, and that it would only use local funds.

Development work would raise 27.9 billion Afghans, he said, but did not divide spending on defense areas.

“We have paid attention to education, technical education and higher education and our focus is on how to pave the way for education for all,” Hanafi said.

The Taliban authorities have not yet allowed the education of older girls to resume across the country after committing to a start date earlier this year.

($ 1 = 87,7500 afghanis)

(Written by Gibran Peshimam; edited by David Holmes)

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