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Economists worried over cash assistance suspension

Economists worried over cash assistance suspension

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10 Jan 2023 - 15:00
Economists worried over cash assistance suspension
author avatar
10 Jan 2023 - 15:00

KABUL (Pajhwok): Economists believe delays in provision of humanitarian aid will trigger an economic crisis in Afghanistan and the authorities should revisit the decision that has prompted the suspension of cash flows into the country.

After last year’s political change, Afghanistan’s banking system came to a halt for some time and people faced severe economic problems. But later the international community started providing humanitarian aid to the needy Afghans.

About 1.7 billion dollars reached the country in the form of 50 cash aid packages up to January 9, 2023.

The caretaker government barred female students from higher education until further notice. It was followed by another order banning women from working for non-government organisations.

Following the ban on women NGO workers, reports say, a number of humanitarian aid agencies have either suspended or curtailed their activities in the country.

Sources say aid delivery has been stopped after the interim government suspended higher education for girls and barred women from working for aid groups.

According to reports, after the ban on women workers of NGOs, some charitable institutions have stopped operations.

With regard to this situation, Pajhwok spoke to some analysts, who warned if the delay in delivery of international humanitarian assistance continued, the Afghans and their country’s economy would suffer.

Zakaria Haidari, a professor of economics at Kabul University, claimed cash assistance and other humanitarian aid to Afghanistan had been stopped due to the suspension of women’s work by the government.

He reckoned 95 percent of the people of Afghanistan were faced with economic problems. Despite receiving humanitarian aid, people were still facing problems, he noted.  If aid flows stopped permanently, he feared, controlling the economic crisis would become very difficult.

He added: “From the economic point of view, the value of the afghani has been kept stable artificially in the market. There are no dollar savings in the country, and if foreign aid stops, the value of the afghani would considerably depreciate.”

Should the local currency further plunge, the professor predicted, prices of essential items would sky-rocket and people’s problems would deepen as a result.

Haidari urged the government to accept legitimate demands of the international community, allow women to work and reopen universities and schools for girls.

Qais Mohammadi, another analyst, said cash aid packages did not come to Afghanistan from the global fraternity, but from the US. The incumbent administration, therefore, should remain committed to all aspects of the Doha agreement.

The acting government was unable to form an inclusive government in more than one year and a half, he noted, linking the aid halt was meant to mount pressure on the government to accept demands of the US-led international community.

Some Taliban officials say they are striving to create a Sharia-based framework for women’s education and work, but they stress there should be no strings attached humanitarian aid.

Mohammadi said although cash assistance had a political aspect, it put a positive impact on people’s lives. For instance, the afghani is being kept stable with foreign aid that also kept the economy afloat. Should aid flows stop, he said, the afghani would be once again in a free fall.

In case of aid suspension, the caretaker government might impose more taxes on the people to bridge revenue gaps, a move that would affect the masses, he maintained.

Mohammadi called delays in humanitarian aid delivery an inhuman act that should not happen. But cash aid had a political dimension and was delayed for political reasons, he observed.

In order to continue receiving aid, he opined the government must change its policies and accept legitimate demands of the international community and Afghans.

Tariq Farhadi, another economist, viewed the international community’s warning of stopping cash aid to Afghanistan as a serious issue.

The cash deposited in Da Afghanistan Bank was spent in Afghanistan by the UN, he said.  After the Islamic Emirate barred women from working for NGOs, some aid groups suspended operations in Afghanistan.

If the current situation persists, he thinks, only the organisations providing emergency aid will be able to work in Afghanistan and the rest will have to suspend their activities.

He suggested the caretaker government prepare a draft law on women’s employment and reconsider its decision. He also called for lifting the ban on university and secondary school education. for girls.

Pajhwok Afghan News shared emails on the issue with caretaker government spokespersons, who have not yet responded.

But Taliban officials have repeatedly said religious scholars were looking for a solution to the ban on girls’ education and women’s work within the framework of the Sharia law.

Some media outlets quoted a spokesman for the Da Afghanistan Bank as saying the international community had halted sending cash aid to Afghanistan.

But in a statement, the DAB spokesman rejected media reports about the suspension of international humanitarian aid flows into the country.




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