Political and security uncertainty slow Afghanistan’s economic recovery
Continued political uncertainty and a possible decline in international aid is slowing down Afghanistan’s economic recovery from COVID-19, the World Bank said Monday in its latest country update.
The World Bank’s report, Setting Course to Recovery, shows that robust agricultural growth has partially buoyed Afghanistan’s economy, which shrunk by around two percent in 2020 – a smaller contraction than previous estimates.
However, lockdowns, weak investment, and trade disruptions have hit services and industries, increasing hardship and unemployment in cities.
Growth is expected to reach one percent in 2021 and top around three percent in 2022 as the COVID-19 crisis fades. Per capita incomes are unlikely to recover to pre-COVID levels until 2025 due to fast population growth, the report noted.
“The current political and security uncertainties have created serious hurdles to Afghanistan’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. A slower pace of recovery means higher unemployment, lower government revenues, and – ultimately – more difficult living conditions for Afghans,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
A full recovery will be challenging as many firms have closed and jobs were lost. Private sector confidence has weakened amid difficult security conditions, uncertainty about the outcome of the ongoing peace talks, the possible withdrawal of international troops, and potential sharp declines in future international aid support.
The report also noted that droughts are expected in 2021 and will likely reduce agricultural activity, further weakening growth prospects.
The report emphasizes that a strong and sustainable partnership between the Afghan government and its international partners is key to driving recovery and restoring private sector confidence.
In that effort, the government needs to accelerate reforms to improve governance, fight corruption, mobilize revenue, and boost business.
The report also noted that simultaneously, donors can support private sector confidence through clearer multi-year aid commitments and by defining measurable priority reforms that condition continued grant support.
Customs duties on essential food items drops by up to 70%
The Ministry of Finance said that based on the decision of the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, customs duties on basic food items have dropped by between 50 and 70 percent in the last solar year.
As a result of this decision customs duties have been reduced to the value of 6.7 million afghanis this year, the ministry said.
The decision to decrease customs duties on the food items that include flour, wheat, cooking oil, rice, and sugar, was to keep the prices down on local markets.
Kunduz commerce department’s revenues rise by 48%
Kunduz Directorate of Industry and Commerce officials say their revenues have increased by 48 percent this solar year.
According to officials, the institution has collected more than 12 million Afghanis from the extension and distribution of licenses to manufacturing companies.
Mohammad Rahim Sirat, head of Kunduz Directorate of Industry and Commerce, said they distributed licenses to 112 people and renewed the licenses for 303 people.
Meanwhile, Kunduz Municipality officials also announced that they have collected 120 million Afghanis in 11 months of the current solar year, which shows a 40 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
Tajuddin Sohak, the spokesman for Kunduz Municipality, said they collected 120 million Afghanis this year, which shows a 40 percent increase from 86 million afghanis last year.
But shopkeepers and owners of manufacturing companies in Kunduz complain about the lack of a market for their products. They say that in the past their goods used to be exported abroad, but now exports have declined.
“In the past, we used to export to Iran, Pakistan, and Iraq, but our exports have decreased compared to the past. We ask the government to cooperate with us to provide the basis for export,” Wasim Akram, an entrepreneur, said.
Local officials in Kunduz say they have always tried to facilitate trade. They express hope that in the new year their efforts for foreign marketing of manufacturing companies will produce good results.
IEA leader met customs officials, asked them to provide facilities for merchants
The leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Mawlavi Hibatullah Akhundzadah, met with ministry of finance customs officials on Wednesday and shared necessary guidance and recommendations.
According to the ministry statement, Deputy Minister of Finance for Revenue and Customs, Mullah Muhammad Nasser Akhund, General Director of Customs, Mufti Abdul Matin Saeed, and all the officials of the country’s customs were present in the meeting.
At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Finance for Revenue and Customs and the General Director of Customs of the Ministry presented a detailed report related to their performance since the takeover of the country by the Islamic Emirate and also shared their recommendations for improving related matters with Mawlavi Hibatullah Akhundzadah, the ministry said.
The leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan pointed out to the officials their assigned responsibilities and gave them the necessary guidance.
“The leader also gave them recommendations in order to provide better services for the Islamic ruling system, treat people well, provide facilities for merchants and other related sectors,” read the statement.
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