Taliban forbid Afghans leaving the country to leave with dollars and antiques

The Taliban regime is trying to prevent the flight of qualified executives, but also of capital, preventing Afghans wishing to leave the country from taking dollars with them.

Faced with the massive flight of Afghans, including the well-to-do classes and qualified executives, the Taliban are taking restrictive measures. Thus, the fundamentalist regime forbids Afghans from leaving the country to take dollars and historical objects.

“Dear compatriots, we would like to warn you against any smuggling and transfer of dollars and antiques from Afghanistan by air or overland. In the event of discovery, the objects mentioned above will be immediately confiscated, and their holders brought to justice,” Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesperson for the Taliban, tweeted on 24 August.

On the same day, at a press conference in Kabul, Zabihullah Mujahid accused Western powers evacuating Afghans who worked with them of emptying the country of its specialists, qualified cadres, and intellectual elites.

Westerners “should not encourage Afghans to flee Afghanistan” and encourage qualified employees, engineers, or others to do the same, said the spokesman, quoted by AFP: “We ask them to stop […]. This country needs its expertise”.

He added that the Taliban had blocked the road to Kabul airport, and only foreigners will now be able to access it. In addition, they have already opposed the extension of the withdrawal of American troops beyond 31 August.

Economic crisis

The country is currently facing an economic crisis, with many countries and institutions having stopped providing financial assistance to Afghanistan. Aid which has so far represented around 40% of the country’s GDP.

Thus, the day after the resumption of Kabul on 15 August, the Biden administration announced the blocking of the Afghan reserves held by Afghanistan in the United States. In total, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), at the end of April, the gross reserves of the Afghan Central Bank stood at 9.4 billion dollars. Germany also announced a suspension of $300 million in aid. Finally, the IMF blocked 440 million dollars.

Following the conquest of the Taliban, Ajmal Ahmady, ex-governor of the Afghan Central Bank, warned that the regime would have no other choice but to control the flight of capital and restrict access to dollars and to cope with the freezing of Afghan public assets abroad, the depreciation of the local currency and the rise in food prices.

According to Ajmal Ahmady (@aahmady): “Therefore, my base case would be the following:

  • Treasury freezes assets
  • Taliban have to implement capital controls and limit dollar access
  • Currency will depreciate
  • Inflation will rise as currency pass-through is very high
  • This will hurt the poor as food prices increase.”

“Taliban revenues can be considered relatively large for an insurgent campaign, but insufficient for running a functioning government,” Ajmal Ahmady wrote in a Financial Times article on 24 August.

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