International assistance represented 40% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product and made up 80% of its budget when the former US-backed government was in control.
When it crumbled in August and the Taliban took command, Western powers froze billions of dollars in aid and assets in what the United Nations described as an “unprecedented fiscal shock”.
“For the first time in the last two decades, we made a budget that is not dependent on foreign aid and that is a very big achievement for us,” Taliban finance ministry spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal said.
The budget of 53.9 billion afghanis ($508 million) approved on Wednesday will cover the first quarter of 2022 and is almost entirely dedicated to funding government institutions.
Haqmal said state workers, many of whom have not been paid for months, will start receiving salaries by the end of January.
Female staff, who have mostly been blocked from returning to their jobs, will also be paid. “We count them like they have come back to work. We have not fired them,” Haqmal said.
About 4.7 billion afghanis will be spent on development projects including transport infrastructure. “It’s a small amount but that’s what we can do now,” Haqmal said.
The Taliban budget is funded by “our own resources” including tax, trade and mining revenue, he added.
On Tuesday, the UN said it needed $5 billion in aid for Afghanistan in 2022 to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and offer the ravaged country a future after 40 years of suffering.
In its biggest-ever single-country appeal, the UN said $4.4 billion was needed within Afghanistan, while a further $623 million was required to support the millions of Afghans sheltering beyond its borders.
The UN said 22 million people inside Afghanistan and a further 5.7 million displaced Afghans in five neighbouring countries needed vital relief this year.
“A full-blown humanitarian catastrophe looms. My message is urgent: don’t shut the door on the people of Afghanistan,” UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said.
- AFP, with additional editing by George Russell