Friday, January 12, 2007

Can Iraq Deliver? (funding)

To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs." - From President Bush's Jan. 10 address to the nation
How on earth can Bush pledge that the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on anything? In 2006, the Iraqi government had a budget of $6 billion, but in the end was only able to spend 20% of that. In early December I referenced this article by the NYT which explained:
"The country is facing this national failure to spend even as American financial
support dwindles. Among reasons for the a strange new one: bureaucrats are so fearful and confused by anticorruption measures put in place by the American and Iraqi governments that they are afraid to sign off on contracts.

...the stringent measures they had favored to slow the rampant corruption may be
especially daunting for bureaucrats who have little experience with Western-style
regulations and oversight. Those officials say that Iraqis who have seen their
colleagues arrested and jailed in anticorruption sweeps are reluctant to put their own name on a contract."
Other factors include a high government turnover, security problems, actual corruption and a lack of Iraqis skilled at writing contracts and managing complex projects. I am sure that the Iraqi government is committed to delivering a better life for Iraqis, I'm just not sure that given the aforementioned issues, Bush can rely on these Iraqi billions.

Bush also declared:
"We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform."
But will the countries that make up this compact be willing to provide Iraq with significant funds without being sure if Iraq can even utilize them?

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