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US sets up fund that could transfer frozen assets to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 14, 2022)

Washington is to set up a new fund that could eventually serve as a mechanism to free up Afghanistan’s frozen assets in order to promote economic stability in the country, senior US officials told CNN.

According to the officials, the Biden administration has worked with Switzerland and Afghan economists to set up this fund.

The US is moving $3.5 billion to the new “Afghan Fund,” but officials said they won’t release the money imminently because there is no trusted institution in Afghanistan to guarantee the funds will benefit the Afghan people, CNN reported.

Afghanistan’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank, issued a statement on Wednesday stating that it “deems any decision on allocation, using and transferring of the assets for irrelevant purposes unacceptable and wants it to be reconsidered.”

The statement notes that the assets are for the stability of currency, strengthening of the financial system and facilitating trade.

According to Turkey’s TRT news outlets, the funds will be transferred to the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, and the U.S. will set up a trusteeship to oversee the disbursement of the money for the purposes of both monetary policy and humanitarian aid.

“The [Da Afghanistan Bank] funds belong to DAB and should be returned to Afghanistan,” said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesperson for the IEA who serves as head of the political office.

“In this critical time when 99% of Afghans are living under the poverty line, it is direly needed that the reserve[s] return to the country.”

However, a US official told CNN that transferring these funds to the Afghan central bank will depend on two key factors: responsible management of the bank and assurances that the funds will not be diverted to terrorists or criminals.

“We do not have that confidence today,” said a senior US official. At minimum the Afghan central bank will need to “demonstrate its independence from political influence and interference.”

The officials also said DAB will also need to demonstrate it has “instituted adequate anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism controls” and “complete a third party needs assessment and onboard a reputable third party monitoring,” the official explained.

CNN reported that it reviewed a letter sent to DAB this week from the US deputy secretary of the Treasury, which mapped out steps DAB needed to take. The letter cites the need for DAB to demonstrate independence from IEA influence and interference, among other expectations, CNN reported.

Earlier this year President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing for the $7 billion in frozen assets from Afghanistan’s central bank to eventually be distributed inside the country and to potentially fund litigation brought by families of victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

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Pomegranate harvest down in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: October 2, 2022)

Pomegranate production has declined by 10 percent in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, local officials said this week.

Drought and floods are said to be the main reasons behind the decline in pomegranate yield in Kandahar this year.

“We have pomegranate trees covering 10,000 hectares of land. Unfortunately, this year’s harvest saw a 10 percent decrease,” said Shams-ur-Rahman Musa, head of agricultural products at Kandahar agriculture department.

Meanwhile, the provincial chamber of commerce said that they have exported 13,134 tons of pomegranate so far this year.

Abdul Baqi Bina, deputy head of Kandahar Chamber of Commerce, said that pomegranate was also being transported to other provinces of the country.

Local farmers also said that drought and floods affected pomegranate production this year, but added that the demand for the fruit remains high in the market.

“Pomegranate harvest has declined this year due to drought. Hopefully it will increase next year,” said Juma Khan, a farmer in Kandahar.

“I request the Islamic Emirate’s authorities to help provide us with pesticides,” said Abdullah Jan, a farmer in Kandahar.

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Food and oil prices fall in Afghanistan: IEA

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(Last Updated On: October 1, 2022)

The officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) have recently said that the price of food items and oil has decreased by 30 percent in the country.

Mohammad Yunus Mohmand, deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) has said that over the past month, the price of food items and oil have decreased by 30 percent, and in the near future the prices will decrease even more.

“The prices have decreased by 20 to 30 percent and will decline further,” said Mohmand.

Akhundzada Abdul Salam Jawad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, also said that the ministry has taken more measures to control prices, but they want to import enough food and non-food items into the country.

“We assure the people that before the arrival of this winter season, we have plans to reduce the basic needs, and all commodities and raw materials, Inshallah will have a significant reduction,” said Salam Jawad.

At the same time, the officials of ACCI have further said that the decrease in food prices in the world has had a positive effect on food prices in Afghanistan.

However, the high level of poverty has caused the country’s residents to not be able to buy the materials they need, therefore, they call on the government to pay serious attention to the price of raw materials so that the rates do not rise again.

“Until yesterday, a can of oil was 1900 afghanis, today it has reached 1700 afghanis,” said a shopkeeper.

On the other hand, the price of oil products has also declined, and a number of sellers express hope that the price of oil and gas will decrease further.

“Previously, the price of diesel per liter was 100 afghanis, now it is 97 afghanis. Gasoline was 80 afghanis, now it is 78 afghanis,” said an oil seller.

This reduction in price of food items and oil come while recently the Ministry of Industry and Trade has signed a contract with Russia for the purchase of millions of tons of food and petroleum products, which according to experts, the prices will drop significantly when these products are imported.

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IEA in talks with Russian, Chinese businessmen on investment in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2022)

Officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) are in talks with Russian and Chinese and Arab businessmen over the possibility of investment in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said this week.

“We are in talks with big businessmen of Russia, China and Arab countries on investment in Afghanistan. We will make it public once we reach agreement,” said Khanzada Abdul Salam Jawad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

According to the official, more than 100 business licenses were distributed to foreign nationals during the past one year.

Meanwhile, members of the private sector welcome efforts to attract foreign investment in Afghanistan.

“I think there is interest in investment in Afghanistan. There are political problems. They (investors) will consider political issues, banking issues, and transfer of money. There can be no other excuses. The laws are the same as in the past. The laws are easy and clear,” said Khanjan Alokozay, a member of Chamber of Commerce and Investment.

Economic experts call on IEA to maintain positive and constructive engagement with countries in order to help the economic development of Afghanistan.

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