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US issues new general license on Afghanistan financial transactions

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2022)

The US Treasury on Friday issued a new general license allowing international aid organizations and private firms to conduct commercial and financial transactions with Afghan government institutions.

The new license represents a shift in US policy that had impeded ordinary commerce with Afghan government agencies headed by US sanctioned Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Haqqani Network leaders since they came into power in August, Reuters reported.

The new license maintains prohibitions on transactions with sanctioned leaders and other blocked individuals and excludes transfers of luxury items.

The license makes clear “that while sanctions on the Taliban (IEA) remain in place, this action facilitates the private companies and aid organizations working with governing Afghan institutions and paying customs duties, fees and taxes,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call.

The new license is part of what US officials said are ongoing US efforts to help contain an economic collapse that quickened in August when Washington and other donors cut financial aid underpinning 75 percent of Afghanistan’s public spending.

“Our action today recognizes that in light of this dire crisis, it is essential that we address concerns that sanctions inhibit commercial and financial activity,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.

The license, signed and published by the US Treasury Department on Friday, stated: “Authorizing Transactions Involving Afghanistan or Governing Institutions in Afghanistan (a) To the extent authorization is required and except as provided in paragraph (b) of this general license, all transactions involving Afghanistan or governing institutions in Afghanistan prohibited by the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 594 (GTSR), the Foreign Terrorist Organizations Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 597 (FTOSR), or Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, are authorized.”

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of Treasury explained that the new license, GL 20, “authorizes financial transfers to or involving all governing institutions in Afghanistan — including but not limited to the DAB (Central Bank), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Energy and Water, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, and Ministry of Public Health — or to or involving state-owned or -controlled companies and enterprises in Afghanistan, including Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), provided there are no financial transfers to the Taliban (IEA), the Haqqani Network, any entity in which the Taliban (IEA) or the Haqqani Network owns, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, a 50 percent or greater interest, or any blocked individual who is in a leadership role of a governing institution in Afghanistan,”

Examples of activities authorized by GL 20 includes “commercial transactions involving Afghanistan, including imports from Afghanistan, exports to Afghanistan, and commercial transactions within or involving the geographical territory of Afghanistan.”

It also includes “dealings with state-owned or -controlled companies and enterprises in Afghanistan, including the electrical utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS).” 

Other inclusions are as follows:

  • Payment of taxes, fees, or import duties, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services, provided that such payments do not relate to luxury items or services;
  • Financial institutions’ processing of transactions to, from, or transiting Afghanistan, including clearing, settlement, and transfers through, to, or otherwise involving privately owned and state-owned Afghan banks;
  • Financial and professional services related to economic activity in Afghanistan;
  • Activities related to infrastructure maintenance or development in Afghanistan, including water, sanitation, energy, electricity, and public utilities;
  • Activities related to the development, maintenance, and operation of civilian transportation in Afghanistan, including safety and maintenance operations for civilian transportation in Afghanistan, including air traffic services, air navigation services, other transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to operations or use of airports, ground and landside operations, and rail or road construction or maintenance;
  • Transactions with respect to the receipt and transmission of telecommunications, mail, or parcels involving Afghanistan;
  • Importation from and exportation to Afghanistan of any information or informational materials;

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World Bank report finds Afghan revenue collection strong

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

The World Bank on Wednesday published its latest report on Afghanistan’s economy and painted a slightly positive picture – stating that in the first nine months of the fiscal year 2022, exports were good, the exchange rate was stable and the Islamic Emirate’s revenue collection had been strong.

The World Bank stated that inflationary pressure in Afghanistan has eased since July of last year, decelerating by half to 9.1 % in November, while most basic food and non-food items are still widely available. The report stated the decline in inflation was due to lower global oil and food prices, along with a stable exchange rate.

The bank stated that Afghanistan exported $1.7 billion worth of goods during this time, an increase of approximately 90% compared to the full year 2021.

The report noted that January to June 2022 data shows the country imported $2.9 billion of goods.

In addition, the report stated that revenue collection had remained strong, reaching $1.54 billion between March and December 2022, in line with 2020 results.

A major chunk of the revenues came from taxes collected at borders and non-tax sources while a rise in coal mining royalties and fees were likely the drivers of the increase in revenue, the report found.

The report also noted that most government workers in Afghanistan have received salaries regularly and that their main problem was the lack of cash in banks when withdrawing their salaries.

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New labor minister promises to provide job opportunities to curb migration

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Abdul Manan Omari, the new minister of labor and social affairs, says the ministry will try to provide job opportunities for people inside the country so as to stop Afghans from seeking work outside the country.

In an introductory ceremony on Thursday in Kabul, the new minister said the ministry will also try to defend the rights of Afghans working in other countries, as well as create job opportunities in order to curb migration.

Meanwhile, Noorul Haq Anwar, the head of the Administrative Office, said at the event that the Islamic Emirate is a national system and is committed to providing balanced services throughout the country.

“The rights of all citizens will be addressed,” said Anwar.

According to him, many attempts have been made to weaken the country’s economy, but they have managed to control this.

He said they will not allow anyone “to lead the country to an economic crisis” and expressed hope that with the changes in the leadership of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, services will improve.

Currently, the country’s unemployment rate is estimated to be at above 90% as hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs following the withdrawal of foreign troops and the collapse of the former government.

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Uzbekistan to resume electricity exports to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 24, 2023)

Uzbekistan will resume electricity exports to Afghanistan from Wednesday after a 10 day stoppage.

Tashkent suspended supplies on January 14 due to the extreme cold, which led to a fuel shortage at their power plants.

The Ministry of Energy in Uzbekistan said that supplies to Afghanistan were temporarily stopped as a result of fuel shortages and various technical problems, as well as to ensure a stable energy supply to consumers in Uzbekistan.

The Ministry said it had warned the energy company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) about the situation.

Bakhtar news agency reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan on Tuesday assured the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan that within the next 24 hours, 250 megawatts of electricity will be provided to Afghanistan.

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