When the Taleban captured power in 2021, they moved swiftly to take over domestic revenue collection, adopting Ministry of Finance systems for taxes and customs. As insurgents, they had been diligent tax collectors and brought a wealth of experience in collecting money from people, but little in spending it – outside the war effort. Since foreign donors no longer support the Afghan state, it is now Afghan citizens who pay for what their government does. While the Islamic Emirate has been relatively open about revenues, it has been cagey about how it spends money. In this report, AAN’s Kate Clark and Roxanna Shapour have put together what little is known or can be found out about Taleban spending plans and priorities. They find large sums of money allocated to security and contingency codes and relatively little to social services apart from education. They also conclude that following the money reveals how well Afghan bureaucracy continued despite the upheaval of regime change – and how fully the Taleban have captured it.A customs employee registers a truck driver’s cargo at the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border, in Nangarhar province. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP, 2 February 2023.
This report attempts to fill in some of the gaps in Emirate spending, drawing on the very limited data available. It brings together information from three main sources:
- The Taleban Ministry of Finance mini-budget for the last quarter of 1400 (21 December 2021 to 20 March 2022) with its breakdown of planned spending of 53.9 billion Afs, which is the best we have from the Emirate about its spending priorities, as the information it subsequently released concerning its 1401 budget was just a few sentences long.
- ‘Accountability sessions’ held in August and September 2022 in which the Emirate’s senior officials described to journalists, radio listeners and television viewers the achievements of their ministry or other state body during the first year of Taleban rule. Most boasted about the revenues collected, projects or ‘outputs’ related to their organisations and a handful mentioned budgets or staffing.
- Information on salary payments to state employees, gathered by AAN in interviews conducted between June and August 2022, with a smaller round of interviews in December 2022 and January 2023 to check what, if anything, had changed.
This is the second part of reporting on Emirate finances. Part 1, Taxing the Afghan Nation: What the Taleban’s pursuit of domestic revenues means for citizens, the economy and the state, was published in September 2022.
Our readers alerted us to some errors in an earlier version of this report. These were related to the mislabelling of several budget lines in the operational budget for the security sector in the 1400 Q4 mini-budget, which in turn had affected the text of the report. The revised version of the report, which can be previewed below or downloaded, has corrected these errors.
Please note the name of the revised report as: Revised-Taleban-expenditure-202304-FINAL.
You can preview the report online and download it by clicking the link below.
This article was last updated on 10 May 2023