The Taliban has announced a complete ban on the use of foreign currency in Afghanistan, a move certain to cause further disruption to an economy pushed to the brink of collapse by the abrupt withdrawal of international support in the wake of the group’s takeover of the country.
The surprise announcement on Tuesday came hours after a coordinated gun and bomb attack on Afghanistan’s biggest military hospital in the capital, Kabul, killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens more.
“The Islamic Emirate instructs all citizens, shopkeepers, traders, businessmen and the general public to … conduct all transactions in Afghanis and strictly refrain from using foreign currency,” the Taliban said in a statement posted online by spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.
“Anyone violating this order will face legal action,” the statement said.
The use of US dollars is widespread in Afghanistan’s markets, while border areas use the currency of neighbouring countries such as Pakistan for trade.
Aid groups are urging countries, concerned about human rights under the Taliban, to engage with the new rulers to prevent a collapse they say could trigger a migration crisis similar to the 2015 exodus from Syria that shook Europe.
The departure of US-led forces and many international donors left the country without grants that financed three-quarters of public spending.
The finance ministry said it had a daily tax take of roughly 400 million Afghanis ($4.4m).