Now, with American aid likely out of the question and billions in central bank foreign reserves frozen, the Taliban will have to find other means to pay for salaries and support citizens and infrastructure. I’ve been studying the finances of the Taliban and American-backed government for many years as an economic policy analyst at the Center for Afghanistan Studies. Understanding how the Taliban will pay for their government begins with the last time they were in power over 20 years ago.
In the 1990s, Afghanistan was a very different country. The population was under 20 million and relied on international aid groups for the few services they could provide. In 1997, for example, the Taliban government had a budget of just US$100,000, which was barely enough for the salaries of government officials, let alone the entire country’s administrative and development needs.