Taliban increase payments for wheat as economic crisis deepens

A flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan hangs above a street in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 19, 2021. Photo taken on October 19, 2021. REUTERS / Jorge Silva SEARCH “YOUNG TALIBAN SILVA” FOR THIS STORY . SEARCH “LARGER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES

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KABUL, Jan.11 (Reuters) – The Taliban administration on Tuesday announced it was expanding its food-for-work program, in which it uses donated wheat to pay thousands of public sector workers instead of cash as the financial crisis intensifies.

Wheat, largely donated by India to the previous US-backed government in Kabul, is used to pay 40,000 workers 10 kg of wheat a day to work five hours a day, agriculture officials said at the time. of a press conference.

The program, which largely employs paid laborers for public works programs in Kabul, will be rolled out nationwide, they said.

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“We are ready to help our people as much as we can,” said Fazel Bari Fazli, deputy minister of administration and finance at the ministry of agriculture.

The Taliban administration has already received an additional 18 tonnes of wheat from Pakistan with a pledge of 37 tonnes more and is negotiating with India for 55 tonnes, according to Fazli.

“We have a lot of plans for a food-for-work program,” he said.

It was not clear how much of the donated wheat would be used as direct humanitarian aid and how much the workers would pay.

The expanding agenda highlights the growing conundrum facing the Taliban administration as liquidity in the country dries up and could raise questions among donors over the use of humanitarian aid for government purposes as strict restrictions remain on financial flows to the country.

International sanctions against members of the Taliban, the freezing of central bank assets and the sudden decline in international aid that once formed the backbone of the economy have left the Taliban government with limited public finances and a crisis. growing economy.

Humanitarian aid has continued as foreign governments attempt to prevent millions of people from starving to death, but is designed to bypass Afghan government channels and is primarily distributed through international multilateral institutions.

UN agencies on Tuesday asked donors for $ 4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan in 2022, calling the funds “an essential plug” to secure the country’s future. Read more

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Written by Charlotte Greenfield Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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