United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Afghanistan launched its latest COVID-19 impact assessment report on Wednesday and said the pandemic has set back Afghanistan’s economic growth by several years.
The report, the 4th since the coronavirus outbreak, exposed structural and resource gaps in responding to unforeseen events such as pandemics. The country had to reallocate resources from long-term development priorities to fighting this health crisis.
In a statement issued by the UNDP, the organization said the report, titled “Fiscal Options in Response to Coronavirus Crisis”, focused on the fiscal implications of #COVID-19.
The UNDP stated it estimates that due to a combination of external and internal shocks, the Afghan economy will contract by around six percent in 2020.
“Assuming the recovery starts in 2021 and growth performance to be positive between 2021 and 2024, it will be moderate, and well below the pre-pandemic level.
“Without well thought-out recovery-oriented policies, this amounts to a cumulative loss of around 12.5 percent in real GDP by 2024,” read the statement.
UNDP said Afghanistan witnessed a sharp decline in revenues in 2020 due to low economic activity, trade disruption and weaker compliance brought on by the pandemic.
“The government had to adjust the revenue estimates downwards from Afs 209 billion (US$2.71 billion) in 2019 to Afs 144 billion (US$1.87 billion) during the mid-year budget review.”
UNDP stated it estimated an average of 17 percent decline in corporate tax revenue and 18 percent decline in personal income tax revenue.
“Tax on international trade will be the worst hit and revenues may decline to as low as 19 percent due to the decrease in imports, while tax revenue on goods and services might decline by 10 percent,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, UNDP stated the fiscal deficit is expected to increase to around four percent of GDP in 2020.
“The Government of Afghanistan needs to opt for policies and programmes to generate more revenue to address the fiscal deficit.
“Given the economic slowdown, a second wave of the pandemic, continued conflict, and an uncertain peace process and political environment, the country will continue to need grant support from the international community to address the fiscal deficit and maintain its current level of expenditure on basic services,” read the UNDP’s statement.
The organization also stated that additional grants need to be directed at driving and implementing reforms to improve the business regulatory environment, improve governance, encourage investment and strengthen the private sector.
According to the statement, the UNDP and other stated along with other international development partners, it would continue to support Afghanistan in the run up to the donor pledging conference later this month.
However they urged the Afghan government to address the immediate fiscal impact of the pandemic and help reverse its negative effects.