Shoaib Barak, an Afghan businessman, is struggling to pay his staff and suppliers.
“I am very ashamed,” he says, mainly through his construction company, which recently hired 200 more people across the country.
“For me, for every Afghan, this is very disgusting. I do not even have the ability to pay my team.”
When the Taliban came to power in mid-August, the United States froze nearly $ 9.5 billion in assets — equivalent to half of the country’s 2020 GDP — preventing money from falling into the hands of the Islamic State. .
Although somewhat liberated, these funds may have been solicited by victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and prevented by US justice.
These reserves, which are commonly used to finance infrastructure projects or pay government bills, have spread to other parts of the economy: Afghan banks and at the end of the chain, businesses and citizens have no dollars.
“Release the reserves!” Mr. Barack begs. “If you have a problem with the Taliban, do not retaliate against the nation and the people.”
– Free Fall Coin –
The cash crunch of entrepreneurs explains the problems affecting tens of thousands of Afghans.
From contracts paid in US currency with private groups or the former government, Mr. said he had about three million dollars (2.6 million euros) in his accounts. Says Barack.
But as local banks limit weekly withdrawals of up to 5% or up to $ 5,000 in business account balances, entrepreneurs have bills that are several months late and have nothing to pay to employees like Ahmed Zia.
The 55-year-old engineer earned 60,000 Afghans a month – or 620 euros before the Taliban’s takeover of the currency, causing it to fall 25%.
Four months later, he is struggling to make ends meet and fears that his wealthy family of six will “eat only once or twice a day”.
Impact does not stop with employees: Ehsanullah Maroop’s law firm relies heavily on monthly payments from construction companies.
“The kids were going to a good school,” Mr Maroof says, adding that his nine-year-old daughter Rana is proud to be first in her class.
Today, a son suffering from epilepsy cannot afford good medicine and Rana dropped out of school as his parents could not pay the school fees.
– Food shortages –
The vicious circle continues: the Maroof family’s maid is now unemployed.
Kulha, 42, the main earner in his family of seven, earns 8,000 Afghans a month. Today, she is two months behind on rent and will soon run out of food.
“I have 14kg of rice, 20-21kg of flour and a little oil,” he explains in a one-room apartment, where his neighbors also benefit from the heat of the wood-burning stove.
What “lasts 10 days”, he adds. When she runs out of food and two weeks’ worth of firewood, she joins her millions of dependents for help or charity.
There are still some lights of hope. On Wednesday, the UN. The Security Council adopted a resolution recognizing one year of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, with provisions to ensure that it does not fall into the hands of the Taliban.
But whether this will be sufficient to contain the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe will ultimately depend on the “credibility of the banking system,” says Hannah Luchnikova-Scorsch, IHS Markit’s Asia-Pacific economist.
He added that many Afghan banks were “very close to collapse” and that foreign companies would “fear” falling under sanctions despite the resolution.
For many Afghans, it is already too late anyway.
International organizations have warned that one million Afghan children could die this winter, Shoaib Barak says.
“Who do you think will be blamed,” he asks. “America or the Taliban?”