Taliban says Afghanistan has deficit of 44 billion Afghanis

Taliban says Afghanistan has deficit of 44 billion Afghanis

KABUL Reuters -- Afghanistan has a budget deficit of 44 billion Afghanis $501 million this year, the country's Taliban authorities said on Saturday, without clarifying how the gap between expected revenues and planned spending will be met.

The government announced the first annual national budget since the Taliban took over the war-torn country in August last year, Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said the government planned to spend 231.4 billion Afghanis and domestic revenue of 186.7 billion.

The revenues are collections from departments related to customs, ministries and mines, spokesman for Finance Ministry Ahmad Wali Haqmal said.

Since the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, successive Western-backed governments relied mostly on foreign aid. Foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, leading to the collapse of the government and the Taliban takeover.

The world is yet to officially recognise the Taliban government. Aid agencies figure out how to help 50 million Afghans without giving them direct access to funds, while the country is dealing with rising security issues and an economic meltdown.

Hanafi said the budget for the current financial year, which runs to next February, had been approved by the council of ministries and confirmed by the Taliban's supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, and would use local funds only.

He said that development works would take up 27.9 billion Afghanis, but did not provide a breakdown of spending on areas such as defence.

We have paid attention to education, technical education, and higher education, and our focus is on how to pave the way for education for everyone, Hanafi said.

Taliban authorities have yet to allow the restart of older girls' education across the country after committing to a start date earlier this year.