Taliban’s first annual Afghan budget to have $501 million deficit

Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities announced on Saturday that the government will have a budget deficit of 44 billion Afghanis ($501 million) this fiscal year, without specifying how the difference between projected receipts and planned spending can be bridged.

Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi announced the first annual national budget since the Taliban took control of the war-torn country in August last year, predicting spending of 231.4 billion Afghanis and income of 186.7 billion.

“The income come from customs, ministries, and mines agencies,” said Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry.

Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, successive Western-backed regimes have relied heavily on international assistance. Foreign soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, causing the government to collapse and the Taliban to seize control.

The Taliban administration has yet to be recognized by the international community. While aid groups find out how to support 50 million Afghans without giving the Taliban direct access to funding, the country faces mounting security concerns and economic collapse.

Hanafi said that the budget for the current fiscal year, which runs from February to February, had been authorized by the council of ministers and endorsed by the Taliban’s supreme commander Haibatullah Akhunzada, and that it would be funded entirely with local monies.

He stated development projects will cost 27.9 billion Afghanis, but he didn’t give a breakdown of spending on sectors like defense.

“We’ve focused on education, technical education, and higher education, and our entire focus is on how to make education accessible to everybody,” Hanafi added.

After promising to recommence older girls’ schooling across the nation early this year, Taliban officials have yet to do so.

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