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Taliban Says Government Employees To Be Paid Overdue Salaries

Most of Afghanistan's civil servants haven't been paid in months.

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers announced that they would begin paying three months of overdue salaries to government employees starting on November 20.

Most government employees have not received salaries since the Taliban took control in mid-August and the country entered a severe financial crisis.

"We are going to start paying salaries from today. We will pay three months’ worth of salaries," Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry, said at a press conference.

Since the Taliban came to power, the country has experienced a major banking crisis with soaring inflation and a plunging currency.

The financial crisis has been exacerbated by Washington's freezing of about $10 billion in Afghan Central Bank reserves in the United States, leaving the new rulers in Kabul with limited funds. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund also halted Afghanistan's access to funding.

Foreign donors had provided more than 75 percent of government spending to the previous Western-backed government. Even then, many civil servants went weeks or months without pay before the Taliban took control of the country.

The worsening economic situation has forced Afghans to take loans or sell assets to survive. Many government workers have stopped showing up to work, instead trying to eke out a living selling food or goods on the streets.

Mohammad Ismail, an aviation civil servant, told RFE/RL that he would now be able to pay back debts he incurred.

“I have not received my salary for three months now,” he said. “Now I am happy that our salaries are being paid so I can pay off my debts.”

A mother of four who works tailoring uniforms in the Interior Ministry said she is facing economic troubles after not receiving her salary for three months.

“We have been living in extreme poverty and hardship. The winter is coming and we have no fuel or food. I am happy that the government is paying us our salaries,” she told RFE/RL.

Miraj Mohammad Miraj, an official at the Finance Ministry, said authorities are now able to pay back salaries after collecting revenues of around $277 million from taxes and customs duties. He said revenue collection was increasing every day.

Another Taliban spokesman, Inamullah Samangani, said on Twitter that the payment of pensions of retired workers would also resume soon.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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