By Mohammad Yunus Yawar
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan faces a budget deficit of 44 billion Afghanis ($501 million) this financial year, the country’s Taliban authorities said on Saturday without clarifying how the gap between expected revenues and planned spending will be met.
Announcing 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 foresaw spending of 231.4 billion Afghanis and domestic revenue of 186.7 billion.
“The revenues are collections from departments related to customs, ministries and mines,” spokesman for the Finance Ministry Ahmad Wali Haqmal said.
Since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, successive Western-backed governments relied mostly on foreign aid. In August 2021, foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan, leading to the collapse of the government and a Taliban takeover.
The world is yet to officially recognise the Taliban government. The country is dealing with rising security issues and an economic meltdown, while aid agencies figure out how to help 50 million Afghans without giving the Taliban direct access to funds.
Hanafi said the budget for the current financial year, that runs to next February, had been approved by the council of ministries and confirmed by the Taliban’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, and would use local funds only.
Development works would take up 27.9 billion Afghanis, he said, but did not provide a breakdown of spending on areas such as defence.
“We have paid attention to education, technical education, and higher education and our all focus is on how to pave the way education for everyone,” Hanafi said.
Taliban authorities are yet to allow the restarting of older girls’ education across the country after committing to a start date earlier this year.
($1 = 87.7500 afghanis)
(Writing by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by David Holmes)