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Taliban Govt. offers Afghans wheat for work as money dwindles

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A man pushes a wheelbarrow as a Taliban fighter stands guard at the market in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday.

AFGHANISTAN: For Kabul day labourer Khan Ali, struggling to feed a family of six since losing his job as a market trader, life has become so hard that he jumped on an offer by the cash-strapped Taliban Government to pay him in wheat rather than the local afghani currency.”For now this is good, at least we will not die of hunger,” the 43-year-old told Reuters.

In a country where U.N. agencies estimate only 5% of households have enough to eat on a regular basis, the government is giving him 10kg (22lb) of unmilled wheat a day to work on strengthening the city’s water and drainage systems.

“It is not enough of course, but in this situation where all Afghans are complaining about lack of work and poverty this is good,” said Ali, a former market trader who was forced to sell the handcart he used at Kabul’s main market as Afghanistan’s economic crisis worsened.International aid has largely disappeared following the Taliban’s victory over Afghanistan’s Western-backed government in August, and long queues form outside banks. For those with bank accounts and money in them, withdrawals have been rationed to 20,000 afghani or $200 a week to help manage a dwindling money supply. Bypassing a financial system that is close to collapse, officials on Sunday announced a public works programme under which 66,000 tonnes of wheat will be distributed to labourers filling 44,000 jobs/44,000 labourers.

Neighbouring countries have donated thousands of tonnes of wheat to help Afghanistan deal with a humanitarian crisis that is slipping out of control, but the use of wheat as a means of payment underlines the extent of the economic meltdown.

Some $9 billion in central bank reserves are frozen outside the country and key trade crossings have been blocked for weeks, crushing exports and depriving the government of millions of dollars in customs revenues.


Friday, October 29, 2021 – 01:00

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