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Taliban releases first budget since Afghan takeover

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The Taliban said on Thursday that they have approved their first budget for Afghanistan since the takeover (File)

Kabul:

The Taliban said on Thursday that they have approved their first budget for Afghanistan since radical Islamists returned to power in August, making no mention of foreign aid.

International aid represents 40 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP and makes up 80 percent of its budget when under the control of the former US-backed government.

When it collapsed in August and the Taliban took over, Western powers poured billions of dollars in aid and assets into what the United Nations described as an “unprecedented financial blow”.

“For the first time in two decades, we have created a budget that is not dependent on foreign aid, and this is a huge achievement for us,” said Taliban finance ministry spokesman Ahmed Wali Haqmal.

A budget of 53.9 billion Afghans ($508 million) approved on Wednesday will cover the first quarter of 2022 and is devoted almost entirely to funding government institutions.

Huckmal said the state employees, many of whom have not been paid for months, would start receiving salaries by the end of January.

Women employees, who have mostly been barred from returning to work, will also be paid.

“We count them as if they are back at work. We haven’t fired them,” Huckmal said.

About 4.7 billion Afghanis will be spent on development projects, including transportation infrastructure.

“It’s a small amount but that’s what we can do now,” Huckmal said.

He said the Taliban’s coffers are funded by “our own resources” including tax, trade and mining revenues.

Islamists are set to announce their first annual budget in March, shifting the fiscal year to match Afghanistan’s solar calendar.

Ever since they took power, Western countries have begun to grapple with the task of aiding the nation without funding their new rulers.

Meanwhile, lakhs of people are facing hunger this winter as a poor country grapples with a cash, fuel and food crisis.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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