West says Afghanistan to get new bank notes, maps out Afghan Fund
Thomas West, US Special Representative for Afghanistan, said Friday that new printed bank notes would soon enter the market in the country, replacing AFN notes that are disintegrating.
Addressing a virtual townhall organized by a US-based Afghan diaspora group, Afghans for a Better Tomorrow, West said: “We all know the banking sector in Afghanistan is cut off from the international financial system, by and large, with the exception of one private bank.
“But there are some transactions that the ministry of finance technocrats and the central bank technocrats want to responsibly move forward with and are unable to do so unless the United States and a number of other countries in a corresponding banking chain really lean in and help to conclude.
“So I am very pleased to say that in the past 24 hours we have finally seen the conclusion of two currency transactions.
“This will mean that new printed Afghani will replace bank notes that … are virtually disintegrating in the system,” he said.
He said he did not know when exactly the new bank notes would “show up in Afghanistan” but added the US would continue to support “priority transactions”.
Discussing the new Afghan Fund, which relates to the transfer of at least $3.5 billion of Afghanistan’s frozen foreign reserves, West said the first board of trustees meeting is likely to take place next month in Switzerland.
He said the basic governance structure is now in place but that this “will evolve”. He noted that four trustees would be the ones making big decisions on the disbursement of funds.
Both the US and the Swiss government will have a representative and the other two trustees are former finance minister Dr Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi and US college professor Dr Shah Mirabi – both of whom live in the United States.
West said Mirabi has served in an advisory capacity to Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) over the past 20 years, while Ahadi had also held the position of central bank governor and was a former commerce minister.
“These are two people we feel are exceedingly well qualified to help make responsible decisions about very limited disbursements of this money to enhance macroeconomic stability in Afghanistan,” West said.
However, there will be an additional advisory body, also made up of Afghans, who will be able to initiate their own ideas about how this money should be protected, preserved, and spent “in limited quantities”, he said.
West went on to say the majority of the $3.5 billion will remain “untouched”.
“It will be preserved for a future recapitalization of the Central Bank and of the financial system in Afghanistan.”
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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