Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

The free market crisis in Afghanistan

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The free market crisis in Afghanistan

It seems that the acceptance of free market economic system has been one of the biggest mistakes in post-Bonn Afghanistan. Since its recognition until now, it has been putting pressure on people impoverishing a vast majority of them in the country. The first blow was felt in 2008 with a sharp increase in price of basic goods in the country but at that time, it was justified as tide of world economic crisis, while after the world economic crisis the issue has not solved in the country. In fact, the upward trend of prices has unstoppably continued from the inception up to the date while no enough monetary changes has happened in the income of fixed salary takers. The salary of a teacher is still 6000Af or 7000Af while the basic goods increased at least one hundred percent. For example, one decade ago, the price of one kg liquid gas was around 30Afs in Kabul market but now it is around 60 Af, a 100% increase. The price of 50kg flour was about 900Af but now it is around 1800 Af, a 100% increase.  The price of 16 cooking oil was about 900 but now it is about 1600 Af, almost a 100% increase. The price of 30 eggs was about 100 Af but now it is around 260 Af, more than 200% increase .
Unfortunately, the trend of free market system has deprived many people from basic needs making the poor poorer and rich richer. Unlike other countries, the richer and the capital of richer did not have any positive impact on the society. Instead playing productive role or creating jobs, they built some skyscraper buildings promoting rent economy or made their utmost attempt in exporting goods from foreign countries. As a result, the number of population increased but number of jobs have not increased. The prices of goods have increased but the amount salaries have not increased. And now, after nearly eleven years from global economic crisis, the economic crisis farther strengthened in the country due to lack of government intervention and lack of creativities by private sector. Although a number of traders grew rich in the country but 90% of Afghan people fell under poverty line. The economic growth of rich people have not led to employment reduction and culture of entrepreneurships in the country .
As a next consequence, thousands of domestic factories have collapsed in recent years either due to damping policies or unequal competitions.  Instead of showing economic creativities, the traders changed to the damping tool of those who wanted to paralyze the economy of Afghanistan which finally reached to their designed goal. Exporting the lowest quality goods, they collapsed thousands of local businesses. For example, it is said that nearly 2500 shoes making factories have been collapsed in recent years and so, the level of joblessness and also the level of social crimes unprecedentedly increased in the country. Despite this, there seems no one to learn from these mistakes. I f this conditions continues, Afghanistan will never be able to stand on its own feet economically. The current destitute condition would farther worsen in the future. From one hand the number of jobless population are increasing and on the other hand, the international donation will be stopped .
However, the critique of free markets system does not mean proposing the old medieval system, but it want to emphasize that the copy of a prescription which was prescribed to a certain patient would not work for a second one without any modifications. We should not blindly copy a system which, somewhat, worked in different social, cultural, economic and political contexts. Given the world ruling system, there are no absolute free market systems in the globe. The modern world economic systems are combined of socialism, communism, mercantilism, defense-mercantilism and also liberalism. The historic experiences show that a solitary system is neither successful and nor practicable in today s politicized the world.  Today, the most liberal countries of the world like European countries provide a minimum social welfare to all. Though their formal system is largely based on liberalism and free market system but they are carefully watchful so as to prevent any abuses may caused by free market system or any optimistic views .
The real philosophy of free market system is to strengthen economic growth, economic activism and global peace and prosperity through fair and balanced goods exchange.  Unfortunately, it has produced a reverse outcome in Afghanistan due to a wrong fallacy from free the market system in economic context of Afghanistan. Even, the current system has widely violated the human rights. Adhering in enacted law or wrong fallacy, we widely breached the natural rights of human depriving millions from basic rights such as food and shelter. At least, they have right of basic needs such as food, fuels and cooking oil while the free market system deprived them from everything. Therefore, we must stop providing a wrong interpretation from free market system and not use it as a destructive tool justifying hoarding, monopoly, inflation, injustice and even the collapse of domestic factories in the country .
As a conclusion, there are several points to be highlighted here. Firstly, we must be very sensitive against negative impact of economic interactions in today s world. Whenever, the governments feel any signs of oppressive behavior in the market such as damping, monopolies, hoarding or any illegal trades it must immediately interfere in the market. Secondly, we need to note there are some general principles such human rights or social justice superposing any enacted laws and so not justifiable. Based this, the government must hold a special policy or mechanism such as establishment of special unit to regularly supervise the free market system  and make sure that no ones are died because of not accessing to basic needs such as food.  And as a last point, it must be warned that current the economic challenges and unemployment conditions is the biggest threat for the country. If we fail to change the current condition, then there would be no need for terrorists to attack on people; they themselves will be compelled to tear one and other to feed their facilities .

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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