Cash-starved Taliban paying salaries in wheat to govt employees as economic crisis deepens

WION Web Team
Kabul Published: Jan 13, 2022, 09:07 PM(IST)

Economic crisis deepens in Afghanistan Photograph:( AFP )

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The Taliban said that they will be paying the salaries of government employees  with wheat donated to Afghanistan by foreign countries, including India

The cash-starved Taliban administration seems to have adopted the age-old barter system to pay out its hundreds of employees.

On Tuesday, the Taliban said that they will be paying the salaries of government employees with wheat donated to Afghanistan by foreign countries, including India, as they do not have any money to pay them.

Wheat, largely donated by India to the previous US-backed Kabul government, is being used to pay 40,000 workers 10kg of wheat per day for working five hours a day, agriculture officials told a news conference.

The scheme, which has largely paid labourers on public works programmes in Kabul, will be expanded around the country, they said.

“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.

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Fazli said that the Taliban administration has already received an additional 18 tonnes of wheat from Pakistan with a promise of 37 tonnes more and is in negotiation with India for 55 tonnes.

“We have lots of plans for food for work programme,” he said.

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However, it was not clear how much of the donated wheat would be used as direct humanitarian aid and how much to pay workers, Reuters reported.

On January 1, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced that it has committed to providing the Afghan people with 50,000 MT of wheat, life-saving medications, and Covid vaccines.

"In coming weeks, we will be undertaking the supply of wheat and the remaining medical assistance. In this regard, we are in touch with UN agencies and others to finalise the modalities for transportation,” it said in a statement.

International sanctions on Taliban members, frozen central bank assets and the sudden drop off in international assistance that once formed the backbone of the economy has left the Taliban government with limited government finances and a growing economic crisis.

On Tuesday, UN agencies asked donors for $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan in 2022, calling the funds an "essential stop gap" to ensure the country's future.

(With inputs from agencies)

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