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Ajmal Ahmady, former Afghanistan central bank governor; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Afghanistan's former central bank governor, Ajmal Ahmady, had a front-row seat to the country's recent economic development. So he knows as well as anyone the financial risks the new government — and the people of Afghanistan — now face.

Driving the news: In a talk with the Atlantic Council on Friday, Ahmady shared his inside perspective on the Afghan financial system and concerns for the future of the economy. Front and center: the lack of hard currency.

Why it matters: A money drain from the country is intensifying a humanitarian crisis.

  • Because of long-standing international sanctions against the Taliban, the new Taliban-controlled government doesn't have access to Afghanistan's central bank reserves held overseas, and the U.S. halted shipments of dollars into the country.

What he's saying: A shortage of Afghanistan's own currency, the Afghani, could be worsened by the fact that the country can't print money itself. There's no banknote printer within its borders.

  • Instead, Afghanistan had contracts with companies in Poland and France, to name a few, to print new Afghanis, Ahmady said.
  • But European companies are likely to also halt business with the government in light of the sanctions.

The Taliban will be in the market for another printer. Private companies residing in nations with a friendlier stance toward the new Afghan government may still not want to run afoul of the sanctions, Ahmady said.

  • One possibility: Neighboring Pakistan has a banknote printer.

State of play: Amid the cash shortage, the government has placed limits on how many Afghanis individuals can withdraw from banks. Often, banks aren't even able to provide that minimum to customers, Ahmady noted.

  • In that void, the Pakistani rupee may become an increasingly common medium of exchange, now that it's accepted for trade in Afghanistan, he explained.

What to watch: The shortage of cash and devaluation of the Afghani could lead to a growing rate of inflation.

  • This may hit the Afghan population most hard when it comes to food staples like wheat and flour, for which the country relies on imports, Ahmady said.

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

1 hour ago - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% has received at least one dose.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.