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Finance flowing out…

February 22, 2012

Governor Delawari

Wall Street journal, 22 Feb 2012: Afghanistan’s central-bank governor said he will issue new currency restrictions to stem an exodus of billions of dollars in cash—some of it in stolen U.S. aid and drug money—flowing out of the country as foreign forces withdraw.  Some $4.6 billion in cash, more than the entire government budget, was taken abroad through Kabul airport alone last year, according to Afghan central-bank data, double the $2.3 billion recorded in 2010. But even those figures “grossly” underestimate the real extent of overall money flight, central-bank governor Noorullah Delawari said in an interview.

Talking about immigration, Tony Blair once said that the measure of a country is whether you are trying to get into it or get out of it.  We should  probably be trying to keep track of Afghan population flows with this in mind as we try and judge real confidence levels across the country towards 2014 and beyond.  But the same clearly applies when it comes to finance as a good indicator of a country’s potential.  I am sure that much of the money referred to here came originally from well-intentioned international contributions.  Although obviously a positive step that this problem is being recognised, this has been a long-running story.

July 2010: The U.S. and Afghanistan are establishing a joint task force to keep an eye on the billions of dollars in cash flowing out of the Asian nation each year. U.S. and Afghan officials suspectthat part of the money moving out of Afghanistan is from corruption and opium trafficking.

In July last year the Afghan government was in dispute with the US, which had accused the Afghans of obstructing investigation efforts.  It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Afghanistan’s future is being syphoned off.

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