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Safety Concept signed to ensure security of Afghan section of TAPI

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(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have signed a safety concept agreement to ensure the security of the Afghan section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

According to Turkmenistan’s Trend news agency, the signing took place on April 15 during a meeting between representatives of the two countries.

The Safety Concept is an important step in the timely implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline project, including the development of a Safety Plan and Protocol, which are annexes to the Host Government Agreement, the foreign ministry’s report said.

The parties exchanged views on the ongoing work on the TAPI gas pipeline construction project and they discussed the implementation of measures to be carried out by the end of August this year.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.

The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan in December 2015.

The length of the Turkmen section of the pipeline will be 205 kilometers in length and will pass through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar (816 kilometers), through the cities of Quetta and Multan across Pakistani territory (819 kilometers), and reach the city of Fazilka in India.

The pipeline’s design capacity is planned to be 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and the project’s cost – about $8 billion, Trend reports.

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Rising wood prices a cause for concern in Kabul as winter looms

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

Kabul residents on Thursday raised concerns about rising prices of heating materials as people started shopping to prepare for winter.

During the winter, Afghan families typically keep warm by using a wood-burning bukhari, a drum-shaped stove made of thin metal, or a pit of burning coal under a small table covered by a heavy blanket.

Kabul resident Abdul Khaleq Hashemi urged the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government to bring prices under control.

“The flour, rice, and oil taxes are in the control of the Taliban (IEA) and they should all have a certain fixed price. Same for wood, it should have a certain fixed price, and this issue should be brought under control. It is not right for everyone to sell wood at any price they want,” he said.

Facing an economic crisis as winter approaches, IEA officials appealed to the international community to release frozen assets of more than $9 billion and increase shipments of humanitarian relief as the nation faces an economic crisis.

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IEA won’t be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves: US

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo on Tuesday said he sees no situation where the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) who regained power in Afghanistan in August, would be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves, which are largely held in the United States.

The IEA have called for the United States to lift a block on more than $9 billion of Afghan central bank reserves held outside the country as the government struggles to contain a deepening economic crisis.

“We believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban (IEA) but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Adeyemo told the Senate Banking Committee.

The IEA took back power in Afghanistan in August after the United States pulled out its troops, almost 20 years after the IEA were ousted by U.S.-led forces following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large in Afghanistan. They are trying to work out how to engage with the IEA without granting them the legitimacy they seek, while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

“Our goal is to make sure that we are implementing our sanctions regime against the Taliban (IEA) and the Haqqani network, but at the same time allowing for the permissible flow of humanitarian assistance into the country,” Adeyemo said.

The Haqqani network is a group affiliated with the IEA based near the border with Pakistan and blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war.

Adeyemo said the Treasury was taking every step it could within its sanctions regime to make clear to humanitarian groups that Washington wants to facilitate the flow of aid to the Afghan people, but warned that for humanitarian assistance to flow, the IEA have to allow it to happen within the country.

The Treasury last month further paved the way for aid to flow to Afghanistan despite U.S. sanctions on the IEA when it issued two general licenses.

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Afghanistan’s economic collapse could prompt refugee crisis: IMF

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Afghanistan’s economy is set to contract up to 30% this year and this is likely to further fuel a refugee crisis that will impact neighbouring countries, Turkey and Europe, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

With non-humanitarian aid halted and foreign assets largely frozen after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) seized power in August, Afghanistan’s aid-reliant economy “faces severe fiscal and balance-of-payments crises”, it said in its regional economic outlook update.

“The resulting drop in living standards threatens to push millions into poverty and could lead to a humanitarian crisis.”

The IMF said the turmoil in Afghanistan was expected to generate important economic and security spillovers to the region and beyond and was “fueling a surge in Afghan refugees”, although it gave no estimates of potential numbers.

“A large influx of refugees could put a burden on public resources in refugee-hosting countries, fuel labor market pressures, and lead to social tensions, underscoring the need for assistance from the international community,” it said.

Assuming a million more Afghans flee their homeland and settle in other countries in a way that is proportional to the existing spread of Afghan refugees, the annual cost of hosting them would amount to $100 million in Tajikistan (1.3% of gross domestic product), about $300 million in Iran (0.03% of GDP) and more than $500 million in Pakistan (0.2% of GDP), the IMF said.

Tajikistan said last month it could not afford to take in large numbers of refugees unless it received international financial assistance.

Other Central Asian nations have also said they have no plans to host refugees.

Another channel through which Afghanistan’s economic troubles could affect its neighbours is trade.

“Exports to Afghanistan are macroeconomically and socially relevant for Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan,” the Fund said.

Afghanistan previously served as a source of cash dollars, through both legitimate and possibly illicit cross-border flows, due to its status as a beneficiary of large donor funds, but now even larger amounts of dollar banknotes could start flowing into the country due to its shortages, the IMF said.

The goods they are exchanged for are likely to raise new concerns over money laundering and the financing of terrorism, it added.

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