Per-capita income in Afghanistan likely fell by a third in the final months of 2021, World Bank warns and predicts per-capita GDP to drop by 30% by 2022 end.

Afghanistan has descended into a serious economic crisis after countries froze its assets held abroad and cut off aid, though some assistance has been restored.
Afghanistan has descended into a serious economic crisis after countries froze its assets held abroad and cut off aid, though some assistance has been restored. (AA)

The outlook for Afghanistan's economy is dire with per capita income falling by over a third in the last four months of 2021 after the Taliban seized power and foreign forces withdrew, the World Bank HAS said.

"One of the poorest countries in the world has become much poorer," said Tobias Haque, World Bank Senior Country Economist for Afghanistan, on Wednesday.

"The isolation of the Afghan economy following last August's political crisis risks...leading to grave poverty, displacement, fragility, and extremism threats," he told a briefing for the release of the World Bank's first development update on the country since August.

The Taliban takeover prompted foreign governments, led by the United States, to cut development and security aid, and the strict enforcement of sanctions has debilitated the country's banking sector.

Incomes drop

The World Bank update said that incomes had dropped so starkly that around 37 percent of Afghan households did not have enough money to cover food while 33 percent could afford food but nothing more.

A Taliban failure to meet Western conditions, in particular access to education for all girls, has led the international community to withhold international assistance and keep financial sanctions in place, with exceptions for humanitarian aid.

"Under current conditions, the outlook for Afghanistan's economy is dire," the World Bank said in a statement accompanying the update.

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GDP loss by 34 percent

"An alternative pathway is possible," the Washington-based development lender said, pointing to Afghanistan's agricultural and natural resource sectors, young population and improving security.

"But moving towards this trajectory would require actions by both the international community and the interim Taliban administration," the World Bank said.

If current conditions continued, the World Bank predicted, Afghanistan's real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita would decline by around 34 percent between the end of 2020 and the end of 2022, reversing all progress since 2007.

The United States cancelled planned meetings in March, some of which would have included the World Bank, to discuss key economic issues after the Taliban sent all high school-aged girls home after they had arrived ready for classes.

The U-turn angered donors, foreign governments and many Afghans as Taliban officials had previously said they were opening all schools.

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Source: AFP