Taliban pay in wheat in lieu of cash as economic crisis bites | World News

The Taliban administration said on Tuesday it was expanding its “food for work” programme, in which it uses donated wheat to pay thousands of public sector employees instead of cash as a financial crisis intensifies.

Wheat, largely donated by India to the previous US-backed Kabul government, is being used to pay 40,000 workers 10kg of wheat per day for working five hours a day, agriculture officials told a news conference.

The scheme, which has largely paid labourers on public works programmes in Kabul, will be expanded around the country, they said.

“We are ready to help our people as much as we can,” said Fazel Bari Fazli, deputy minister of administration and finance at the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Taliban administration has already received an additional 18 tonnes of wheat from Pakistan with a promise of 37 tonnes more and is in negotiation with India for 55 tonnes, according to Fazli.

“We have lots of plans for food for work programme,” he said. It was not clear how much of the donated wheat would be used as direct humanitarian aid and how much to pay workers in Afghanistan.

The expanding programme underlines the growing conundrum faced by the Taliban administration as cash in the country dries up and could raise questions among donors over the use of humanitarian aid for government purposes while strict restrictions remain on financial flows into the country.

UN agencies on Tuesday asked donors for $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan in 2022, calling the funds an “essential stop gap” to ensure the country’s future.

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“A full-blown humanitarian catastrophe looms. My message is urgent: don’t shut the door on the people of Afghanistan,” said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

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