An Afghanistan restaurant's sales dropped 80% after the Taliban takeover, leaving its owner fearing for its future

© Provided by Business Insider Laziz Mahal restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mojeburahman Musleh

  • A Kabul restaurant owner says the Taliban takeover has left him feeling hopeless.
  • Sales have dropped by 80% at Mojeburahman Musleh’s establishment, Laziz Mahal restaurant.
  • Afghanistan residents have reduced purchasing power and cannot afford to eat out, he told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Until three months ago, sales were steadily increasing at Laziz Mahal, a newly renovated fast-food restaurant in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

Then the Taliban took over the capital.

The restaurant’s owner, Mojeburahman Musleh, told Insider he is now struggling to keep his business up and running. He said the regime has made everything worse and that “everything looks gloomy” for people like him.

Musleh is not alone. Since the Taliban assumed power over Kabul, many Afghans have been left distressed over their future.

“Laziz Mahal Restaurant has been badly affected by [the] change of regime in Kabul, most of our potential customers have left the country and those who [are] left do not afford to eat at [the] restaurant,” Musleh told Insider.

He said he used to have regular customers who worked in government institutions and the private sector. Now they don’t appear as much because offices in the capital are closed.

His friends also used to eat at his restaurant every day and now they don’t visit either. The restaurant has suffered an 80% reduction in sales and service, and Musleh is struggling to pay his employees and other minor costs as a result.

According to Musleh, these struggles are the result of the diminished purchasing power of many Afghans, which has been significantly affected in recent weeks. Essentially, “less people will go out for eating,” he said.

Afghanistan’s local economy has been left in a dire state as the Taliban move to set up a new government.

At a recent event hosted by the Atlantic Council, Afghanistan’s former central bank chief Ajmal Ahmady said: “I don’t want to say economic collapse, but I think it’s going to be [an] extremely challenging or difficult economic situation. He predicted that GDP would shrink by 10-20%.

Banks are facing a cash shortage and may have to close to the public soon unless the Taliban releases more funds, Reuters reported.

The cash shortage has been ongoing for weeks, with one month now passed since the Afghan government collapsed, the report said. Bankers fear the situation could lead to inflated food and electricity prices.

Afghanistan’s economy is cash-based, especially for local businesses. The country relies on money shipped by the US to Afghanistan’s central bank but with roughly $9.5 billion in frozen assets in the country’s central bank, the Taliban is likely to inherit increased hardships.

Gargi Rao, Economic Research Analyst at GlobalData said: “With multilateral agencies including EU, the IMF and the World Bank halting funds, it will further deter the growth prospects amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Musleh said he purchases his raw materials in dollars and sells his service to customers in afghani currency.

But in the last few weeks, Afghanistan’s currency has slipped in value, falling about 10% versus the US dollar. In the week after the Taliban took control, it slipped from about 79 afghanis per dollar to 86 afghanis per dollar, Insider’s Kevin Shalvey reported.

When asked how Musleh how the weakened afghani will affect his restaurant, he said he will need to raise prices to get to a more balanced point.

“Frankly, I don’t see any hope for my business,” Musleh added. “If this case continues in [the] very near future, my restaurant will be shut down and the result will be unemployment for all team members.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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