The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Afghanistan authorities have reached a preliminary agreement on an economic reform program to be supported by a new three-and-half year US$364 million Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
This announcement comes just three months before the United Nations’ donor pledging conference for Afghanistan gets underway.
In a statement issued by the IMF on Friday, the fund said the ECF will help mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, maintain macroeconomic stability, and underpin reforms for economic resilience and good governance.
The fund also stated that continued financial assistance from international partners is critical to support objectives of Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework for 2021-25, including inclusive growth, poverty reduction, and self-reliance.
Leading the IMF’s team was Azim Sadikov, and virtual discussions were held with Afghan officials through July and August on the country’s economic reform program.
Sadikov said however that the agreement is subject to the approval of the IMF’s Executive Board, which would possibly consider the agreement in October after preliminary conditions have been met by Afghan authorities, including the improvement of accountability and transparency in procurement processes.
“The new ECF arrangement will support authorities’ reform program to maintain macroeconomic stability and lay the ground for a sustained post-pandemic economic recovery while continuing to advance structural reforms,” Sadikov said.
He said the reform program aims to gradually reverse the fiscal decline due to the pandemic and instead create space for development sending while increasing self-reliance.
He stated improvements in customs collections and revenue administration need to be improved and the planned Value Added Tax (VAT) process needs to be implemented in 2022.
“Monetary policy will continue to focus on maintaining price stability and a flexible exchange rate regime, while fostering confidence in the Afghani,” Sadikov said.
He also said that reforms, in accordance with the new ECF arrangement, will focus on addressing issues that hamper economic growth and resilience.
“To that end, the program will aim to improve fiscal governance, strengthen the anti-corruption regime, and bolster the financial sector,” he said.
“Bolstering the financial sector, including by completing the reform of state-owned banks, will also be important to boost its capacity to contribute to growth.
“Coming before the November pledging conference, the ECF arrangement is expected to catalyze donor financing, which is critical to support Afghanistan’s reform and development objectives under the multi-year National Peace and Development Framework,” he said.
The pledging conference is organized every four years and was last held in 2016 in Brussels.
This year, Finland will host the conference, which will be organized by both the UN and Afghanistan.
Previous international financial commitments largely end by December of this year.
MTN receives $35 million offer for Afghanistan operation
South Africa’s MTN Group has received a binding offer for 100% of its shares in MTN Afghanistan for a consideration of approximately $35 million, the company has confirmed.
The identity of the buyer was not disclosed but the operator expects the transaction to be concluded within roughly six months, South African media reports indicated.
The sale will mark the completion of the group’s planned exit from its consolidated Middle East and Central Asia markets following the sale of its business in Yemen and the loss of its Syrian operations last year.
Muttaqi urges China to help increase Afghan export volume
Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with Beijing’s visiting special envoy to Kabul on Tuesday and called on China to pave the way for Afghan exports.
During the meeting, held in Kabul, Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government for starting the visa issuance process in Kabul for Afghan traders, calling it beneficial for bilateral trade between the two countries.
China’s envoy Yue Xiaoyong said that he was working on bilateral and multinational relations with Afghanistan, and spoke about the “encouraging news during his recent regional visits,” according to a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry.
Yue also praised the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for its efforts and achievements, adding that the new Afghan government has been able to fulfill challenging and significant tasks in a short period of time, and that it had managed the natural disasters and cold winter well, the statement said.
The Chinese special envoy said bilateral relations with Afghanistan had progressed significantly, adding that the meetings between the two countries’ foreign ministers depicted deep relations between the two nations.
He also said that in addition to pine nuts, China was considering importing other dried and fresh fruits to help Afghanistan’s economy.
China’s special envoy arrived in Kabul after visiting Turkey, Pakistan and India to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, the envoy also met with Acting Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid, where they discussed the need for bilateral cooperation.
Mujahid told the envoy that Afghanistan would facilitate investment in the country.
Musk says Twitter deal could move ahead with ‘bot’ info
Elon Musk said Saturday his planned $44 billion takeover of Twitter should move forward if the company can confirm some details about how it measures whether user accounts are ‘spam bots’ or real people, AP reported Saturday.
The billionaire and Tesla CEO has been trying to back out of his April agreement to buy the social media company, leading Twitter to sue him last month to complete the acquisition. Musk countersued, accusing Twitter of misleading his team about the true size of its user base and other problems he said amounted to fraud and breach of contract.
Both sides are headed toward an October trial in a Delaware court.
“If Twitter simply provides their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they’re confirmed to be real, the deal should proceed on original terms,” Musk tweeted early Saturday. “However, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially false, then it should not.”
Twitter declined comment Saturday. The company has repeatedly disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission an estimate that fewer than 5% of user accounts are fake or spam, with a disclaimer that it could be higher. Musk waived his right to further due diligence when he signed the April merger agreement.
Twitter has argued in court that Musk is deliberately trying to tank the deal because market conditions have deteriorated and the acquisition no longer serves his interests. In a court filing Thursday, it describes his counterclaims as an imagined story “contradicted by the evidence and common sense.”
“Musk invents representations Twitter never made and then tries to wield, selectively, the extensive confidential data Twitter provided him to conjure a breach of those purported representations,” company attorneys wrote.
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