1.2m salary-class people affected by banking curbs

KABUL (Pajhwok): Economic affairs experts term curbs imposed on banking sector and freezing of Afghanistan assets as dangerous for the economic situation of Afghanistan and stress over the normalization of banking affairs.
Meanwhile, officials of the private organizations expressed concern over the curbs imposed on banks and said they were facing economic problems and were unable to pay salaries to their employees. After the Taliban takeover of Kabul, banks, money exchange centres, markets and public offices were closed, sparking a public outrage that forced banks and money exchange offices to reopen but with limited access and restrictions.
Lately Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) officially informed other banks not to issue more than $200 or 20,000 afs to consumers in a week. The US administration has frozen nearly nine billion of Afghanistan’s foreign assets and stopped financial support to the country indefinitely.
Private sector concerned over curbs imposed on banks: Haji Mohammad Aman Popalzai, one of the factory owners in Kabul, said before the fall of the government he exported 300 tonnes of raisin to Russia against $100,000 and the amount deposited in his bank account. “Due to curbs and restrictions I am unable to withdraw my money,” he added.
He said over 100 women were working in his factory who needed salary but he was unable to pay them. “I am a businessman and the raisins I exported to Russia is not mine. I purchased it from tens of other businessmen and my money is locked in the bank account. Now businessmen and workers are asking for money but I cannot withdraw more than $200,” he said.
He said for some days he avoided going to work because businessmen and factory workers would demand their money which he was unable to pay. Meanwhile, the owner of a private media outlet, wishing not to be named, said he was facing economic problem after curbs were imposed on the banking system. “All our money is deposited in one of the private banks and we could do nothing. We are facing financial problems in our offices because we don’t have money for our daily expenses,” he said. He said due to the non-payment of salary, most of the employees were complaining as they struggled with economic problems.
Chamber of Industries and Mining: SherBazKameen, head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Industries and Mining, said currently as many as 5,000 factories were active nation-wide in which 1.2 million people were direct or indirectly working including 4,000 skilled workers. He said due to curbs on the banking system most factory workers are unable to get their salaries.
He said businessmen and industrialist have huge achievements in different areas but curbs imposed on the banking system had created hurdles in the progress of their activities. He said nearly $10 billion of Afghanistan assets had been frozen which has bad impact on the economic progress of the country especially on businessmen and investors.
Kameen asked the international community to positively respond to the logical suggestions of Afghanistan businessmen and release the frozen fund of the country. Khan Jan Alkozai, member of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, critisised the freezing of Afghanistan assets and said not only businessmen facing problem but factories, their employees and salary class individuals had been facing problems.
He said businesses were at a standstill since the assets of Afghanistan were frozen outside the country and goods currently imported by traders had been previously purchased. Alokozai said that the economic cycle fell by 90 percent in the last 20 days and it had affected people, commerce and the government. He asked for removal of sanctions on Afghanistan and said that the country’s economy would fail as 90 percent of people faced poverty and a humanitarian disaster would occur if the situation did not improve in the next few months.
NajibullahAmiri, operative director of Association of Banks, also said that freezing money of Afghanistan had largely affected the economy, people and activities of banks. If restrictions on banks continue, the country banks would lose credibility in the world, he said. He hoped that the international community would take action for resolving the problem.
All monetary deals made through banks: Economist: An economist, who wished to go unnamed, told Pajhwok that if banking services did not return to normal, many problems would surface including loss of credibility for the country banks, secret deals and money trafficking. He said that the restrictions mostly affected the country and people. “Deals are made secret due to limitations on banks, they are made beyond the observation of the government and banking services, it is a gray and black economy and it is not good at all,” he said.
If people are not given access to money, there will be no transactions and money will be stopped from circulation that will affect the economy and reduce the country’s revenue, he said. He said that Afghanistan will go back to the 1990s if banking services continue to function partially and people will go away from banks and prefer using cash. It will also make deals beyond the observation of the government and push the country into poverty, joblessness and bankruptcy.
Keeping the monetary system alive is important for the white economy of Afghanistan and there is need for normalization of banking services for controlling the economy as all deals including businesses are managed through banks, he said.
Commercial banks under close observation: Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) in a statement on Tuesday quoted Abdul Qadir, acting DAB head as assuring that commercial banks were under close observation and they were better operating compared to the past. “Commercial banks averagely keep 50 percent of Afghani currency with them. So the banking sector is in a better situation. These banks have invested some of the money inside and outside the country so it will help in economic development of the country,” he said.
He said that all banks, money exchange services and companies of national traders would soon normalize their activities. Pajhwok tried to contact ZabihullahMujahid, deputy information and culture minister, about the issue, but he could not be reached for comment.