Taliban’s first Afghan annual budget projected to post $501m deficit

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Maulavi Abdul Salam Hanafi speaks during a Taliban flag-raising ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 31, 2022.REUTERS/Ali Kara/File Photo

Muhammad Yunus Yawar

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan faces a budget deficit of 44 billion afghanis ($501 million) this fiscal year, Taliban authorities said on Saturday, but did not say how to bridge the gap between expected revenue and planned spending.

In announcing the first annual state budget since the Taliban took over the war-torn country in August last year, Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said the government expects spending of 231.4 billion Afghans, with domestic spending. Revenue was $186.7 billion.

“These revenues come from departments related to customs, ministries and mines,” said Ahmed Wali Hakmar, spokesman for the finance ministry.

Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, successive Western-backed governments have relied heavily on foreign aid. In August 2021, foreign troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan, leading to the fall of the government and the Taliban takeover.

The world has yet to officially recognize the Taliban government. The country is grappling with mounting security concerns and an economic collapse, while aid agencies are studying how to help 50 million Afghans without direct funding from the Taliban.

Hanafi said the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in February, has been approved by ministries and confirmed by Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, and will use only local funds.

He said development projects would take up 27.9 billion Afghans, but did not provide a breakdown of spending in areas such as defense.

“We focus on education, technical education and higher education, and our whole focus is how to pave the way for everyone’s education,” Hanafi said.

After promising a start date earlier this year, Taliban authorities have yet to allow the restart of education for older girls across the country.

(1 USD = 87.7500 Afghanis)

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