Unable to Pay Salaries, Afghanistan Asks Donors for More Money

Unable to Pay Salaries, Afghanistan Asks Donors for More Money

(Reuters) – Afghanistan does not have enough money to pay salaries this month and has asked aid donors for a bailout before the end of the year, the treasury chief told Reuters on Thursday.

“Salaries are our priority,” Alhaj Mohammad Aqa said, explaining that teachers, civil servants and other government workers had not been paid their salaries this month.

In September, Afghanistan asked for a $537 million (342.38 million pounds) bailout but donors had only responded with $170 million, he said, adding that the remainder was needed because the budget for state salaries had run out.

Despite more than a decade spent on projects to boost theeconomy, the drawdown of foreign troops and aid donations has crippled Afghanistan’s finances.

Aqa said government officials had met representatives of the United Nations and a group of about 25 donors this week to ask for the funds.

The revenue shortfall this year stood near 25 percent of planned expenditures, he said, illustrating the severity of the budget crisis.

The deteriorating state of Afghanistan’s economy is just one of the big challenges facing the new president, Ashraf Ghani, who was appointed in September.

Another priority for his administration will be dealing with a growing Taliban insurgency, that has inflicted a record number of casualties on the security forces this year.

Almost three months into his presidency, Ghani has yet to appoint a cabinet. He told donors at an Afghanistan conference in London this month it would take another few weeks to get a government in place.

Read the full story at Reuters.