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Businesses geared toward expats struggle in the new Afghanistan

[ 2012-08-08 10:32] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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Behind high villa walls in Kabul's heavily guarded diplomatic district, restaurant owner Saju D'Cruz sits in a sun-washed courtyard and gives himself two more years in a country he has called home for a decade.

Like many other entrepreneurs in Afghanistan bracing for an exodus of foreign troops and aid workers in two years, D'Cruz thinks business can only get worse at his popular Namaste Indian restaurant, as expat customers vanish.

"Our customer base has decreased already. When international forces leave, we'll shut down," he said, gazing out onto a small lawn covered with empty plastic dining tables.

D'Cruz came to Afghanistan from India after the 2001 ousting of the former Taliban government, convinced the inrush of political change would bring with it a demand from both Afghans and foreigners for services taken for granted elsewhere.

While the Taliban had bought only their own austere brand of oppression, Afghanistan's new freedom saw businesses flourish, transforming Kabul from a city of empty, pot-holed streets and ruined suburbs into one of bustling shops and car-choked roads.

D'Cruz and his restaurant caught the investment wave as more than $50 billion dollars in reconstruction money flooded in, but now, like others, he is preparing for a receding tide, taking businesses with it.

With the average monthly salary of an Afghan in Kabul being $300 or less, Namaste's dishes costing up to $18 a plate are out of the reach of the majority of the Afghans who will be left behind after 2014.

"It's a lot to pay for and keep up with, without a steady customer base," he said.

The deputy chairman of Afghanistan's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Khan Jan Alokozai, said with the end-2014 deadline for NATO's withdrawal telescoping in, D'Cruz's worries were being reflected in hotels, restaurants, guest homes and real estate, and even among companies supplying the Afghan and foreign military forces.

"We rebuilt Afghanistan. But we rebuilt it for foreigners," Alokozai said. "We didn't look at what our own people needed and now that they are leaving, we'll have to rebuild it again."

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Businesses geared toward expats struggle in the new Afghanistan

About the broadcaster:

Businesses geared toward expats struggle in the new Afghanistan

Rosie Tuck is a copy editor at the China Daily website. She was born in New Zealand and graduated from Auckland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Communications studies majoring in journalism and television. In New Zealand she was working as a junior reporter for the New Zealand state broadcaster TVNZ. She is in Beijing on an Asia New Zealand Foundation grant, working as a journalist in the English news department at the China Daily website.