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IEA’s finances in much better shape: The Economist

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(Last Updated On: June 11, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) finances appear to be in much better shape than expected, The Economist magazine said in an article published Wednesday.

The British media outlet said that when the IEA seized power, it seemed obvious that they would struggle to administer a country of 40 million, especially for lack of money.

“Yet the new government’s finances appear to be in much better shape than anybody expected,” the report read.

Last month IEA announced its first full-year budget, forecasting revenues of $2.1bn.

The World Bank’s estimate is more modest but still impressive: it reckons the government will collect about $1.7bn this year (about 12% of GDP) in domestic revenue, from things like taxes, customs and fees for services.

That is nearly three-quarters of the $2.3bn the previous government raised domestically in 2020, before business and trade dried up and many taxpaying Afghans left the country.

The previous government’s total funding including foreign finance came to $5.7 billion, but IEA do not have access to the grants and loans that made up the rest.

The Economist said that the IEA managing to keep revenue flowing despite the obstacle is “remarkable.” One reason for their success is that they have plenty of experience collecting taxes, it noted.

Moreover, a handful of holdovers from the former government are maintaining sophisticated financial-management software to run their revenue-collection systems.

IEA has also cracked down on graft, a serious problem under the previous government, The Economist noted.

IEA’s Ministry of Finance welcomed the report, saying the government was seeking to make Afghanistan self-reliant.

“IEA members together with former professionals are working in a brotherhood atmosphere and with it transparency has come and revenues have increased. We have stopped corruption that unimaginably existed in the ministry of finance,” said Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman of the Finance Ministry.

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IEA will attend future UN meetings if demands accepted: deputy PM

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs Mawlavi Abdul Kabir has called the recent decision of the United Nations for the participation of the Islamic Emirate at the second Doha meeting on Afghanistan “unfair” and said that if the demands of the IEA are accepted by the UN and countries in future meetings, the acting government will participate on behalf of Afghanistan, the deputy PM’s office said in a statement.

Abdul Kabir made these statements on Thursday at a graduation ceremony in Kabul.

Kabir added that “Afghanistan, as an independent country and Islamic Emirate as a legitimate Islamic system, assures all its neighbors and the international community that the acting government is striving for economic and development cooperation based on a balanced and moderate policy.”

He also stressed that there would be no threat to anyone from Afghanistan.

While fighting against drugs and corruption, sustainable stability can only be guaranteed under the rule of the Islamic Emirate, which Afghans and the international community have understood, according to the statement.

He stated that with the arrival of the Islamic Emirate, the national budget was prepared from internal revenues for the first time, and in addition to paying the expenses of civil administrations and development projects, the expenses of the Islamic Army and security departments are also paid from the national budget.

The second meeting of special representatives of countries regarding Afghanistan was held on Sunday and Monday of this week in Doha, in which the delegation of the Islamic Emirate did not participate.

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Strong consensus on collective interests in Afghanistan exist: Thomas West

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

Thomas West, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, described the recent UN meeting in Doha as productive, emphasizing a strong consensus on collective interests in Afghanistan, including the desire to see women and girls return to secondary school, university, and work.

“No country wants to see the emergence of a terrorism threat from Afghanistan. All want to see women and girls return to secondary school, university, work, and public life,” West stated in a post about the conference.

West also noted the international commitment to the Afghan people, highlighting the effort to provide humanitarian aid to over 26 million Afghans last year. However, he expressed concerns about sustainability and the need for an approach that empowers Afghans economically.

The envoy acknowledged the Islamic Emirate’s enforcement of a poppy ban, which the UNODC reported resulted in a 95% reduction in cultivation. He underscored the need for more coordination in supporting alternative crops for farmers and recovery for addicts.

West appreciated the participation of Afghan civil society members, both from within and outside Afghanistan, discussing economic needs, human rights, and the importance of continued engagement, including with the Taliban.

Regarding future steps, West welcomed the continuation of the current meeting format and calls for a UN-led process to develop a roadmap for Afghanistan’s full integration into the international community. “The Afghan people’s well-being, and the international community’s shared interests, must guide this work,” he concluded.

The second meeting of special representatives for Afghanistan was held on Sunday and Monday in Doha. The Islamic Emirate did not participate.

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Global fund allocates $4.7 million for health services to Afghan returnees

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has allocated over $4.7 million in emergency funding to provide health services for HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria to the 1.3 million Afghans returning from Pakistan in the coming year.

This emergency funding supplements a $66 million grant that began on Jan. 1, 2024, spanning three years and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Annelise Hirschmann, Head of Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean Department at the Global Fund, noted the significance of the influx: “The anticipated 1.3 million people represent over 3% of Afghanistan’s population. This increase, particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas bordering Pakistan, poses an epidemiological risk and necessitates reinforced HIV, TB, and malaria services.”

The emergency funds will be used as follows:

Malaria: Diagnostic services, distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) in high-risk areas, and training for residents in low-risk provinces to prevent the spread from high-risk areas in Pakistan.

Tuberculosis: Creation of point-of-care facilities at the border with testing equipment, expansion of active case finding, integrated sample transportation, and treatment.

AIDS: Voluntary testing at border entry points, counseling, and continued treatment for displaced individuals.

Stephen Rodriques, UNDP Afghanistan Resident Representative, expressed confidence in the existing systems to meet the returnees’ immediate health needs. “With this emergency funding from the Global Fund, we can further minimize health risks for the returnees, who are in a precarious situation. We welcome this decision and anticipate continued collaboration with the Global Fund,” he said.

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