Economy hit hard by Covid-19 pandemic, experts say – Pajhwok Afghan News
KABUL (Pajhwok): Afghanistan’s exports in the first quarter of the current fiscal year fell 1.7 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the National Statistics and Statistics Authority. information (NSIA).
In contrast, imports rose 2.6% during the period, with economists saying unemployment and poverty have increased since the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
The coronavirus epidemic has affected most countries around the world, but Afghanistan, which depends heavily on aid from the international community, had suffered even more economically.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the quarantine imposed in 2020 and some restrictions this year have caused unemployment to rise, the country’s exports to drop and imports to rise.
Economists and other officials admit that the virus has hit the economy of the people and the country hard. According to the NSIA, 47.30 percent of people currently live below the poverty line, 36 percent of the population is food insecure and more than two million remain unemployed.
Exports have declined over the past two years:
The Trade Statistics Yearbook, published by the NSIA, indicates that Afghanistan’s exports declined 10% in solar year 1399, compared to 1398. In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, exports increased decreased by 1.7% compared to the same period last year.
The Yearbook of Trade Statistics shows that Afghanistan’s exports in solar year 1399 were about $ 776.7 million. In 1398, they amounted to approximately $ 863.8 million.
A comparison of statistics for these two years shows that exports declined by more than 10 percent in 1399, compared to 1398.
In the first quarter of 1400, exports amounted to approximately $ 200.2 million. But during the same period of 1399, they stood at around $ 203.6 million.
The NSIA reports that the volume of experts in the first quarter of this year fell 1.7% compared to the same period last year. However, the figure excludes smuggling and re-exporting of goods.
Imports in 1st quarter of the current fiscal year up:
According to the NSIA, officially recorded merchandise imports in 1399 were about $ 6,537.6 million, but this figure rose to $ 6,776.8 million in 1398. Imports fell 3.5% in 1399 from 1398.
Imports in the first quarter of 1400 amounted to $ 1,570.2 million, compared to $ 1,530.0 million for the same period of the previous year.
In the first quarter of 1400, imports increased 2.6 percent – compared to the same period last year. Again, imports do not include smuggling and re-importing of items.
Covid-19 hits the popular economy:
Qais Mohammadi, professor of economics at Kardan University, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the impact of Covid-19 has been felt by every family, not only in Afghanistan, but around the world. Some people have temporarily lost their jobs while others have been affected permanently, the economist said.
During the first wave of the coronavirus, he recalled, a number of organizations and companies had not been able to pay their employees. As a result, they laid off most of their employees, affecting the poor.
He added that some of the organizations were still facing an economic crisis and their employees were unemployed.
Referring to the fact that most Afghans live below the poverty line, he said government assistance could have alleviated people’s problems in the past. But Covid-19 has hit the masses hard, who are now in a worse economic situation.
Mohammadi added that in the fields of industry, education, services, health, internet, hotel management, leisure parks, entrepreneurs have been affected. Most of the workers found themselves unemployed, facing financial problems.
On rising unemployment and falling incomes, he said the government did not have enough budget to spend it in solar year 1400.
Due to the budget deficit, he explained, the Afghan government had borrowed 17.4 billion Afghanis from the International Monetary Fund. Afghanistan had already received $ 1.8 billion in loans from other countries and international institutions.
“In general, national production has declined, poverty and unemployment have increased and the country’s economic situation has gone from worse to worse. It can be called an economic collapse, ”he noted.
Mohammadi urged the government to provide livelihoods, health services, wages and food to the poor. However, it should not be ignored that the government helped the population to some extent during the first wave of the virus.
However, the economist regretted that the corrupt played ducks and drakes with government help to the poor.
He lambasted the municipality for its inability to cope with the quarantine situation and the distribution of aid to the population. He also criticized the Ministry of Public Health for abusing its budget.
He called government officials cruel who stole people’s bread instead of giving them food, money and jobs.
In such difficult circumstances, he said, tax exemptions and job security should have been guaranteed. But unfortunately that did not happen. At the same time, the professor said, big companies should have helped small companies, as they did in the United States.
The media have highlighted the government’s ineffectiveness in implementing its policies and the Covid-19 crisis has amply exposed administrative corruption. In short, claimed the economist, the leaders showed no mercy towards the people.
Mohammadi also criticized the government for failing to help small businesses or grant exemptions from taxes and electricity bills to keep the business cycle intact. In other countries, governments have provided relief and even people have shared their money with others, he continued.
However, he was quick to recognize that helping the poor and needy during the first wave of the virus was commendable work on the part of the authorities.
Meanwhile, Khan Jan Alokozai, board member of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and deputy director of trade and investment, said the coronavirus has caused deaths and adverse effects on the manufacturing, commercial, economic and other sectors.
As a war-torn, impoverished, import-dependent and landlocked country, Afghanistan needed international assistance, he noted. For these reasons, he said, the negative effects of the Covid on the Afghan economy and government had been more pronounced.
Alokozai has confirmed that the Covid-19 outbreak has led to plant closures, reduced exports and increased imports, which have cost Afghanistan millions of dollars.
The country’s economy was collapsing with each passing day, he said, citing fighting in the provinces, the seizure of ports by the Taliban and the destruction of electricity pylons as other factors affecting the country’s economy. population and government revenues.
Citizens made unemployed by the Covid-19:
Nilofar, a resident of the Khair Khana area of Kabul and a teacher at a private school, said: “With the virus outbreak, everyone has been affected, including my family. I am a teacher in a private school. When the quarantine was announced, our salaries were not paid. So we’ve been hit hard over the past two years.
Hamid, a resident of the Chahar Qala area in Kabul, who worked as a bodyguard for an NGO, told Pajhwok: “After the virus outbreak, our organization suspended its staff. At the end of his quarantine, he hired half of his staff. Now I am unemployed and our economic situation is very bad.
Hamid – the sole breadwinner in his family of four – lives in a rented house. “The coronavirus has ruined our lives. It brought the majority economy down to zero.
Officials also recognize that the Covid-19 epidemic has had a devastating effect on the economy of the population and the country for that matter.
Nooria Nuzhat, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Economy, agreed that the coronavirus epidemic in Afghanistan had had negative effects.
Families, individuals, businesses and corporations have been affected on the one hand and government revenues, trade and the trade balance on the other, she said.
“Across Afghanistan, we have a number of families who are struggling to organize the cost of accommodation, diagnosis and treatment for Covid-19. Due to economic problems, they are unable to take preventive measures, ”she added.
Nuzhat said preventive measures, including vacations, quarantine, downtime and disruption of normal operations, have affected the incomes of individuals and families and have taken a toll on manufacturers and businesses.
Company-level working hours have been reduced and there has been a difference in the level of production and the production of raw materials in Afghanistan, with global markets feeling the impact as well, she said. .
The crisis has also affected government revenues such as taxes, fees, tariffs, rents and service charges, Nuzhat argued.
The spokeswoman said the government must unveil support measures, including the distribution of bread and a national food package program to prevent further damage.
These packages helped people find access to food and the private sector had been supported by the government, she said.
Fawad Ahmadi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said accurate statistics on exports and imports had been provided by NSIA.
But with the inauguration of the Khwaf-Herat and Aqina-Andkhoy railway lines and the adoption of other measures, Afghanistan’s exports have seen a reasonable improvement.
He claimed that around 60 sectors of the economy had recently achieved self-sufficiency. For this reason, the importation of domestically produced items had stopped altogether.
Abdullah Fattah Ishrat Ahmadzai, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, said more than two million people are currently unemployed.
After the epidemic of the virus in the country, he admitted, unemployment increased. Due to the quarantine last year, some institutions, including schools, institutes of higher education and hotels, have laid off some of their employees.
Ahmadi said that with the onset of the disease, all borders, including airspace, land roads and rail services, were closed at once.
But this year Afghanistan and other countries have taken better steps to curb the spread of the pandemic. Trade routes have been kept open, he explained. Imports and exports continued smoothly.