Devalued national currency adds to miseries of Afghan people

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Kabul, Nov 29 (IANS) Afghanistan’s national currency afghani has continued to devalue against the US dollar in years, multiplying Afghan people’s financial woes.

Ordinary people believe the situation increased their economic sufferings, particularly amid skyrocketing prices of food and other basic commodities, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The exchange rate is changing daily. There is no control at exchange market and there is no plan to control the rate. You know, the afghani devaluation directly increases the prices of food items and other basic commodities as we import daily necessities from outside,” Mauloddin, who like many Afghan people goes by one name, told Xinhua.

“My income is in afghanis, the price of goods is increasing but, of course there is no change in my income. I want the Taliban administration to do something, and to find a solution for economic crisis,” said the owner of a small business from the northern Samangan province.

Afghani was recently traded at 96.40 for a US dollar in Sarai-e-Shahzada, the main exchange market located in central area of Kabul, marking the lowest exchange rate in two decades.

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August and set up a Taliban-led caretaker government on September 7, the Asian country has been faced with multiple economic problems.

In particular, economic situation has worsened over the impact of the US freezing of over $9 billion in assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank, plus a halt of funds by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

UN officials in Afghanistan have repeatedly warned that Afghanistan’s banking and financial systems are on the brink of collapse.

They outlined a series of solutions to the crisis, including deposit insurance, adequate liquidity for the banking system, and credit guarantees and loan repayment delay options for the real economy, according to UN sources.

“Many cash-strapped families fell victim to the recent economic situation. The US puts pressure on Afghanistan’s banks to press the Taliban administration but the situation is continuing to press the ordinary people,” he said, adding, “The recent economic situation is insufferable. We are facing a harsh winter while people cannot buy firewood and coal to keep themselves warm,” Abdul Shah, a Kabul resident who works as a driver, told Xinhua.

Official data showed that about 54.5 per cent of Afghans were living under the poverty line in 2019, and the figure soared to 72 per cent in 2020.

At the beginning of 2020, the afghani was traded at 76 for a US dollar, and at 77 in this year’s January, 81 in July and 90 in mid-August.

“The Taliban should hire economic experts and advisors” in order to solve the economic problems, said Shinwari, who believes there are still good experts having not left the country.

“The majority of Afghan people are now waiting for relief support from abroad, because they lost their income in recent months,” said Shinwari, noting that “government employees did not receive their salaries in the past several months too.”

In a move to control the currency devaluation, the central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank injected $10 million into the local exchange market on November 15, but failed to arrest the currency weakening.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) recently announced that the humanitarian response in Afghanistan is scaling up with improved funding and access to life-saving aid.

From September 1 to mid-November, UN partners and NGOs have provided 7.2 million Afghan people with food assistance, according to data provided by the UN officials.

The Taliban caretaker government has repeatedly called upon the US to unfreeze the Afghan central bank’s assets. Recently it said it would soon pay out the salaries for three months to hundreds of thousands of government employees.

–IANS

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