US issues new general license on Afghanistan financial transactions

The US Treasury on Friday issued a new general license allowing international aid organizations and private firms to conduct commercial and financial transactions with Afghan government institutions.
The new license represents a shift in US policy that had impeded ordinary commerce with Afghan government agencies headed by US sanctioned Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Haqqani Network leaders since they came into power in August, Reuters reported.
The new license maintains prohibitions on transactions with sanctioned leaders and other blocked individuals and excludes transfers of luxury items.
The license makes clear “that while sanctions on the Taliban (IEA) remain in place, this action facilitates the private companies and aid organizations working with governing Afghan institutions and paying customs duties, fees and taxes,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call.
The new license is part of what US officials said are ongoing US efforts to help contain an economic collapse that quickened in August when Washington and other donors cut financial aid underpinning 75 percent of Afghanistan’s public spending.
“Our action today recognizes that in light of this dire crisis, it is essential that we address concerns that sanctions inhibit commercial and financial activity,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
The license, signed and published by the US Treasury Department on Friday, stated: “Authorizing Transactions Involving Afghanistan or Governing Institutions in Afghanistan (a) To the extent authorization is required and except as provided in paragraph (b) of this general license, all transactions involving Afghanistan or governing institutions in Afghanistan prohibited by the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 594 (GTSR), the Foreign Terrorist Organizations Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 597 (FTOSR), or Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, are authorized.”
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of Treasury explained that the new license, GL 20, “authorizes financial transfers to or involving all governing institutions in Afghanistan — including but not limited to the DAB (Central Bank), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Energy and Water, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, and Ministry of Public Health — or to or involving state-owned or -controlled companies and enterprises in Afghanistan, including Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), provided there are no financial transfers to the Taliban (IEA), the Haqqani Network, any entity in which the Taliban (IEA) or the Haqqani Network owns, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, a 50 percent or greater interest, or any blocked individual who is in a leadership role of a governing institution in Afghanistan,”
Examples of activities authorized by GL 20 includes “commercial transactions involving Afghanistan, including imports from Afghanistan, exports to Afghanistan, and commercial transactions within or involving the geographical territory of Afghanistan.”
It also includes “dealings with state-owned or -controlled companies and enterprises in Afghanistan, including the electrical utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS).” 
Other inclusions are as follows:

Payment of taxes, fees, or import duties, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services, provided that such payments do not relate to luxury items or services;
Financial institutions’ processing of transactions to, from, or transiting Afghanistan, including clearing, settlement, and transfers through, to, or otherwise involving privately owned and state-owned Afghan banks;
Financial and professional services related to economic activity in Afghanistan;
Activities related to infrastructure maintenance or development in Afghanistan, including water, sanitation, energy, electricity, and public utilities;
Activities related to the development, maintenance, and operation of civilian transportation in Afghanistan, including safety and maintenance operations for civilian transportation in Afghanistan, including air traffic services, air navigation services, other transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to operations or use of airports, ground and landside operations, and rail or road construction or maintenance;
Transactions with respect to the receipt and transmission of telecommunications, mail, or parcels involving Afghanistan;
Importation from and exportation to Afghanistan of any information or informational materials;

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Source: Ariana News

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