The Taliban are certainly now installed in the presidential palace in Kabul, but it will be difficult for them to get their hands on the billions of dollars in the country’s reserves, largely held abroad.
“The assets of the Central Bank that the Afghan government has in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban,” a Biden government official told AFP on Monday. In total, the gross reserves of the Afghan Central Bank stood at $ 9.4 billion at the end of April, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The majority of these funds are held outside Afghanistan, specified a close source, without however indicating in which countries, and how much is in the United States.
The country is now in the hands of the Taliban after the collapse of government forces and the flight abroad of President Ashraf Ghani.
The United States, which had chaperoned Afghanistan militarily and financially for 20 years, could also try to block the aid planned by the IMF and the World Bank, as it did with other countries of which it does not recognize. government, like Venezuela.
Drastically reducing aid to try to bring the regime to its knees by financially drying it up will not be done without problems: “This will have consequences on the functioning of schools, hospitals, governments”, explained to the AFP Vanda Felbab-Brown, Foreign Policy Expert at the Brookings Institution. She then expects “massive humanitarian consequences and consequences for human and economic development”.
The IMF approved on November 6, 2020 an aid program of US $ 370 million for Afghanistan to then be spread over 42 months, with an immediate disbursement of US $ 115 million. A second tranche of aid amounting to $ 149.4 million was disbursed in early June, following an initial review of the progress of the program. Some $ 105.6 million therefore remains to be paid under this aid plan, the objective of which was to support the economy hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its June 7 statement, the fund stressed that the Afghan government had kept its economic program on track despite deteriorating security.
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