News>Feature - Afghani helps buy stable government
Decreasing United States taxes and rejuvenating the economy in Afghanistan are benefits that occur from utilizing Afghani at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, July 8, 2011. It costs United States taxpayers $64,000 to print a million dollars in US currency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook)
Senior Airman James Reed, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing finance cashier, counts Afghani at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, July 8, 2011. Senior Airman Reed is deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook)
Senior Airman James Reed, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing finance cashier, hands out Afghani to a customer at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, July 8, 2011. Usage of Afghan currency assists in building and stabilizing the infrastructure and legitimacy of the Afghan government, allowing them to function independently. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook)
by Tech. Sgt. Emily F. Alley
451 AEW Public Affairs
7/9/2011 - KANDHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Under the shade of colorful tarps, people walk through the bazaar at Kandahar Airfield and bargain over things like scarves and carpets as it could be imagined they did a thousand years ago in Kandahar. Now, however, many of those transactions end with the buyer handing over a wad of U.S. dollars.
After July 1, the finance office of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing began offering the afghani, the official currency of Afghanistan, in addition to the dollar, to Airmen who withdraw cash.
A group of 451AEW vehicle maintainers stood in line at the cahier's window for the Afghani on July 9.
"I'm going to use it at the bazaar, plus I want to keep some as a souvenir," said Senior Airman Jacob Sampey, from Minot Air Force Base, S.D., who added that he planned to give a few of the bills to his family as gifts.
One dollar buys about 45 afghanis at the finance office. While 451 AEW Airmen have always been limited to withdrawing 100 dollars a month, they can now additionally take the equivalent of $150, about 6800 afghani, said Capt. Saida Hage from the 451 AEW finance office.
If U.S. currency continues to be widely used in places like the bazaar near Kandahar, it risks undermining the afghani and dollarizing Afghanistan's economy, she said.
Using the afghani encourages support for legitimate Afghan government and strengthens the country's banking. Many of the contracts that expire within the next few months will likely be renewed with pay shifted from dollars to afghanis, Hage said.
"We're doing our part for the infrastructure," she said. "Strategically, it's good for the environment we're in."
Buyers at the bazaar can't predict where that cash will go once it leaves KAF and the dollars that run through Afghanistan run the risk of supporting the Taliban. When transactions happen in afghani it creates a buffer of inconvenience for terrorists who may try to hoard cash.
Hopefully, the afghani will help limit the demand for U.S. currency in Afghanistan. Shipping excess cash creates additional strain on the U.S. economy and takes up space that could be used for other supplies.
Simply producing a million dollar bills costs $64,000, according to a memorandum by Army Maj. Robert L. Le'iato, a financial office commander.
By using afghanis, Airmen are helping to keep dollars in the United States as well as support the Afghan people they have deployed to help.