Major money exchange market opens in Afghanistan

Attribution: Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of people affiliated with Sarai Shahzada market in Kabul start financial activities after 20 days

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – The largest money exchange market in cash-strapped Afghanistan opened on Saturday, for the first time since the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Aug. 15.

Sarai Shahzada market, located in Kabul’s busy old neighborhood, is Afghanistan’s largest money exchange market, with thousands of people working there.

The market at Kabul’s heart not only assists ordinary people in sending, receiving, and changing money but also assists the government in conducting financial transactions.

It will undoubtedly help ameliorate the situation, said Razle Rabbi, a market member. “The situation was not good because of the closure of banks and Sarai Shahzada market, he explained, adding: “But we hope things will improve gradually.”

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the country’s largest money exchange market and business center started normal business operations in Kabul.

On Thursday, the country’s central bank, De Afghanistan Bank, stated in a statement that people and moneychangers can resume normal operations.

The decision was made following consultations with the Sarai Shahzada market’s council.

“People can resume their routine financial transactions. We promise to bring more facilities in banking services across the country,” the statement said.

People can also go to private and commercial banks to settle their financial matters, it added.

The Taliban are experiencing a cash shortage since the country’s assets are held outside the country, and the public is skeptical of the next administration’s economic policies.

After the Taliban captured Kabul, banks were also shuttered for more than a week.

Even before the branches opened, people flocked to banks to withdraw money up to 20,000 Afghanis ($200), a weekly limit imposed by the country’s central bank.

The International Monetary Fund has already blocked Afghanistan’s access to IMF resources, including around $440 million in new monetary reserves, due to a lack of clarity on the country’s governance structure.

The US officials said the Afghan central bank’s $10 billion in assets abroad are likely beyond the Taliban’s reach. The Taliban would not be able to access any Afghan central bank assets held in the US, the Biden administration officials told foreign media recently.

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