Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_Monitoring, The World Bank’s second private sector survey, published Monday, was conducted in May and June 2022.
The Private Sector Rapid Survey (PSRS) Round 2 assessed the status, constraints, and investment outlook of businesses, and the impacts of the ongoing economic challenges faced by private sector firms in Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan continues to face enormous social and economic challenges that are impacting heavily on the welfare of its people, especially women, girls, and minorities.
“The new survey confirms the resilience of Afghanistan’s private sector, which can play a key role in the economic recovery of the country and improving the lives of all Afghans,” said Melinda Good, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
“It also shows that firms continue to suffer from impacts of political uncertainty and policy fragmentation, Afghanistan’s isolation from the international financial sector, and reductions in international assistance,” she said.
More than three-fourths of firms surveyed in Round 2 are operational, compared to two-thirds in Round 1, conducted in October and November last year.
However, most are operating significantly below their full capacity and are only considered partially open, the World Bank stated. Consumer demand appears to have slightly improved in past months but remains considerably lower than before August 2021.
Employment remained around 50 percent lower, on average, than before August 2021, compared to 61 percent lower in Round 1 of the survey.
Women-owned businesses are most affected by restrictions on women’s mobility, resulting in disproportionate revenue and job losses, World Bank stated.
Female employment remains 62 percent lower than before August 2021, while it was 75 percent lower in November 2021.
In addition to this, the World Bank found that businesses continue to be negatively impacted by the loss of international banking relationships, which has disrupted international payments and limited access to bank accounts and formal banking.
“Firms are resorting to the use of informal money transfer systems for domestic payments,” the bank stated.
Despite some businesses hiring employees, the majority of respondents have coped with these challenges by laying off employees, shifting to cash and informal payment channels, shrinking investments, and lowering staff salaries, World Bank reported.
“Action is required by the authorities to unlock possibilities for much-needed international economic integration and domestic opportunities for Afghanistan’s private sector,” said Good.
“This includes increased transparency in public finances and reestablishing central bank independence. With measures like these and continued resilience of businesses, a sustainable private sector-led recovery is possible.”