Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi

The Taliban has announced the first annual national budget since regaining control of Afghanistan last year, predicting a 44 billion Afghani ($501 million) deficit.

In an announcement, Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said the government projected domestic revenue of 186.7 billion, with spending set to hit 231.4 billion. The minister offered no explanation as to how the country proposed to handle the deficit.

Hanafi said that the budget for the current financial year, which runs until February 2023, had been approved by the council of ministries and confirmed by the Taliban’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada. Whilst previous western-backed governments had relied heavily on foreign aid, the regime planned to rely on self-generated funds, he confirmed.

Spokesman the Finance Ministry Ahmad Wali Haqmal offered few additional details, simply stating that the revenues would consist of “collections from departments related to customs, ministries and mines”.

The world is yet to officially recognize the Taliban government following its return to power in August 2021, and the country is facing economic meltdown as it remains isolated from the international community. Aid agencies are working on solutions to provide assistance to 50 million Afghans without providing funding to the Taliban.

One of the key points of contention in normalizing international relations has been the regime’s apparent refusal to provide higher education to girls and women. On regaining power the Taliban had said they would reverse previous policies outlawing the option, but reversed a decision to reopen school places for girls at the last minute.

Hanafi appeared to indicate that progress would be made on that front.

“We have paid attention to education, technical education, and higher education and our all focus is on how to pave the way education for everyone,” he said.

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