KABUL, Afghanistan

The Taliban administration approved its first budget since the takeover of Afghanistan last August, the Finance Ministry said on Friday.

The budget of 53.9 billion Afghanis ($524 million) will cover the first quarter of 2022 and is almost entirely dedicated to funding government institutions, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry wants to distribute the approved budget to all state institutions as soon as possible to prevent disruptions in the country, it added.

It said some $478 million in the budget are allocated to government institutions and $46 million are earmarked for development expenditures.

The approved budget was the first to exclude foreign aid in Afghanistan after 20 years of US occupation.

After the Taliban came to power on Aug. 15, 2021, foreign aid to Afghanistan was cut off, leading to severe economic challenges.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the US Federal Reserve cut off Afghanistan’s access to international funds.

Unemployment, poverty, and hunger have reached alarming levels in Afghanistan.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that the number of people facing acute food insecurity in Afghanistan is at least 18.8 million, and this number is expected to rise to 22.8 million during the winter.

Raising alarm over the deteriorating conditions, UN chief Antonio Guterres has also called on the World Bank to immediately release $1.2 billion to help Afghanistan and its people.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar in Ankara

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