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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 17:00 GMT
Afghanistan's central banker invited home
Wad of afghanis
Monetary policy is difficult to control in Afghanistan
Afghanistan's former central banker has been asked by the leader of the Northern Alliance to return to run the country's monetary policy.

The 38 year-old Abdul Qadeer Fitrat left Afghanistan in 1996 to attend the World Bank's annual meeting, but while travelling through New Delhi, Kabul was overrun by the Taleban.

I kept crying about limiting expenditures, especially in defence, but there was no way to control it

Abdul Fitrat
Former Afghan Central Banker
Mr Fitrat was granted asylum in the US and has since been working as an insurance and carpet salesman in Washington.

If he accepts Burhanuddin Rabbani's offer, he will have a tough job rebuilding a country after two decades of war.

The vaults of the central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank, are also bare after the retreating Taleban reportedly took the last of the country's currency reserves.

His appointment may also be opposed by General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a Northern Alliance leader, who he accused of large scale counterfeiting in 1995.

Welcome home?

The job offer from Mr Rabbani on Saturday may still hinge on the fallout from the agreement in Bonn to establish an interim government.

Promises of large amounts of aid was tied to the agreement and international lenders may want someone else to run the bank.

General Dostum has also rejected the Bonn agreement.

But in Kabul, central bank officials have welcomed the job offer to Mr Fitrat, Bloomberg News reports

The acting chairman Siad Allah Hashimi has reportedly offered to step down if Mr Fitrat returns.

No control

His last stint as governor was not a outstanding period in Afghanistan's economic history.

He held the job from 1994 to 1996 under Mr Rabbani's government, but claims he had no control over inflation.

The government printed money to pay for soldiers and weapons, pushing inflation up to 800%.

"I kept crying about limiting expenditures, especially in defence, but there was no way to control it," he told Bloomberg.

In 1995, he complained that forces opposing Mr Rabbani's government were also printing money to finance the war.

"The Uzbek government has been printing millions of packages of forged l,000 (afghani) notes at the request of General Dostum," he said at the time.

General Dostum, a former communist, allegedly used the money to finance his militia to fight Mr Rabbinic's last government for control of the country.

See also:

06 Dec 01 | South Asia
Uzbek warlord rejects Afghan deal
06 Dec 01 | South Asia
Afghans face new hurdles
05 Dec 01 | South Asia
Wealthy nations open Afghan aid tap
05 Dec 01 | South Asia
Guide to Afghan deal
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