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Kabul restaurants hope for better business

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(Last Updated On: September 14, 2021)

Although many businesses are struggling in Afghanistan amid fears that the economy could collapse, some small restaurant owners are hopeful that business will soon improve, Reuters reported.

The power shift in Afghanistan has affected many aspects of local life.

In the first few days after the Islamic Emirate’s takeover, the impact was considerable in the country’s capital city Kabul, which was famous for restaurants serving local and international cuisines.

“We used to sell 60 to 70 kilos of meat per day. Now, that has dropped to 30 to 40 kilograms. We’ve lost half our business. Whenever we ask someone, they don’t have money – their money is stuck in the banks. There was no business in the first days of the new regime, but now it’s a bit better,” said Ajmal Khan, manager of Shinwari Restaurant.

According to the report the quality and prices of food in restaurants have been minimally impacted. Customers are satisfied with the services, however, the overall economic situation and uncertainties do not allow many to dine out.

“There is no change in the prices. Prices are the same, and so are the services. Everything is the same as before; only the bazaar has slowed down. Hopefully it gets better. Yes, I don’t come frequently now because most of the people have no steady source of income, so they can’t eat out and enjoy the company of family and friends,” said Abdul Rashid, a diner.

Government officials, bank employees and NGO workers were the main customers at restaurants. Since the Islamic Emirate takeover, many of them have stopped going to their offices. Still, restaurant owners are hopeful that the situation will get back to normal once people get back to their jobs, and banks start normal operations again, Reuters reported.

“We still have 30 percent of our customers. In front of our restaurant, there are banks, offices and directorates. Their employees don’t come here anymore. They are either at home or have left the country,” said Abdullah, a restaurant owner.

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Private sector calls for implementation of economic projects

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(Last Updated On: September 17, 2021)

Afghanistan’s private sector on Thursday called on the new government to implement large, regional projects saying this will create job opportunities, which will in turn reduce poverty and increase government revenue.

“There are many opportunities in the country. TAPI, CASA-1000, Railways, Belt and Road, [these] projects should be implemented; it is very important for the country. It is beneficial for Afghanistan. Taliban (Islamic Emirate) should take it seriously,” said Khan Jan Alokozay, a member of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment.

Some members of the country’s craftsmen association said the Islamic Emirate should start with projects that connect Central Asia to South Asia, in order to push Afghanistan’s economy.

“Our country has the capacity to implement large projects between Central Asia and South Asia. We call on Taliban (Islamic Emirate) to address the projects, said Abdul Jabar Safi, head of the association.

The Islamic Emirate meanwhile has stated that they are focusing on projects and that work on these will start soon.

Economic analysts, on the other hand, have stated that work on such projects should be accelerated.

“Attention should be paid to these projects, in order to move to a stable economy. Afghanistan needs such projects now,” said Abdul Wasi, an economic analyst.

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Central bank seizes over $12 million from former govt officials

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Afghanistan’s central bank said it had seized nearly $12.4 million in cash and gold from former high-ranking government officials, including former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

In a statement, the central bank said the money and gold had been kept in the houses of officials, although it did not yet know for what purpose.

Saleh’s whereabouts meanwhile are unknown.

In a separate statement, the bank urged Afghans to use the country’s local Afghani currency.

This comes amid growing concerns that the country’s banks and firms are running short of money, especially dollars, which are widely used.

In a sign that the Islamic Emirate are looking to recoup assets belonging to former government officials, the central bank issued a circular to local banks last week asking them to freeze the accounts of politically exposed individuals linked to the previous government.

But on Wednesday, reports emerged that Afghanistan’s banks are running out of dollars, and may have to close their doors to customers unless the government releases funds soon.

Three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the cash squeeze threatens to upend the country’s already battered economy, largely dependent on hundreds of millions of dollars shipped by the United States to the central bank in Kabul that make their way to Afghans through banks.

Although the cash crunch has lasted weeks, the country’s banks have in recent days repeatedly underlined their concerns to the new government and central bank, two of the people said.

Banks have already pared back services and imposed weekly $200 payout limits, with long queues outside branches as people try to get hold of dollars.

But in a statement on its website on Wednesday, the central bank’s acting governor said banks were stable.

“The banks are completely secure,” he said, adding that commercial banks usually kept 10% of their capital as cash and that those in Afghanistan, on average, held 50% as cash.

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Efforts underway to reopen Torkham and Spin Boldak border crossings

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Mawlavi Amir Khan Mottaqi met with Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan on Tuesday to discuss challenges at the country’s border crossings.

Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Islamic Emirate’s political office in Doha, said the meeting focused on the people’s challenges at the Torkham and Spin Boldak crossings.

According to Shaheen, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan has assured the Islamic Emirate that the crossings will soon be reopened to Afghans and all challenges will be resolved.

Pakistan closed the Torkham crossing to Afghan travelers, and traffic continued intermittently through Spin Boldak after the Islamic Emirate’s takeover of Afghanistan last month.

Thousands of Afghans are however currently waiting to cross into Pakistan at these crossings.

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