Iraq asking for $88bn to rebuild: Will funds find pockets or real targets?
Everyone applauded Iraq in December 2017 when it drove ISIS out of Mosul and other Iraqi cities, albeit at the cost of totally destroying these towns.
In a nation of 37 million, almost every Iraqi there has likely lost a home, a business a friend, a family member or all of these simultaneously.
And for every loss there, someone gained at their expense, by illegal means, hoarding money from tragedy.
And now Iraq, viewed by investors as the 10th most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International, is asking for some $88bn to rebuild.
Kuwait announced $330 million had been pledged Monday for Iraq which will go to more than 4 million children in need of humanitarian assistance.
But will representatives from 70 countries and over 2,300 businesses alongside the World Bank and EU at the February 12-14 Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, listen?
According to Arab News, Iraq needs $22.9bn in the short term and $65.4bn in the medium term for reconstruction and recovery, quoting the Iraqi minister of planning Salman Al-Jumaili on Monday.
Iraq faces a reconstruction of affected areas and more than 2 million displaced and still without homes, from the original 5 million that left.
CNBC, quoted the UN estimating that 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in Mosul alone and Iraqi officials estimate $17bn alone needs to go toward rebuilding homes.
Al-Jumaili said scale of the damage in the seven provinces affected by insurgency amounted to about $46bn dollars.
“Add to that the total damages in the security sector, which amounted to $14bn and the value of losses on bank assets, about $10bn,” he said.
Housing, he added was the worst-hit sector, damaged to the tune of $16bn, followed by energy, oil and gas at $11bn ($7bn to repair oil and gas fields); industrial and trade sectors at $5bn; then agriculture $2bn; education $2.4bn; and the health sector $2.3bn.
Cost of corruption
The real fight ahead for Iraq is not internal strife, or lack of funding, but the sieve-like state of financial affairs, where money poured in is more likely to find a home in someone’s offshore bank account rather than to build shelter.
Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi has the daunting task of imposing rule of law on a structurally weakened country, not the least of which a culture of corruption that has infected every level of state and society.
From contracting to building permits, services, policing, or the judiciary, the rot is deep and widely spread, born out of bureaucratic inefficiencies.
Ardalan Nuraddin, member of integrity committee in the Iraqi parliament, said in an interview with Bas Paper that Iraq is the most corrupt country after Sudan and the rate of corruption in the country is beyond measurement.
“According to some estimations, the size of corruption in Iraq is so far worth $100bn in all sectors, mainly in the oil sector,” he said.
He revealed that the Board of Integrity has a large number of corruption cases to work on and many cases have been handed to the courts, but they are unable to play a role in combating corruption, especially the cases in which high-ranking officials are involved.
“40,000 corruption cases exist in Iraq and a few cases have so far been resolved,” he added.
KRG brings projects worth billions
According to Kurdish site Rudaw.net, a number of officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are expected to attend Kuwait’s international donor conference where they will present investment projects.
“The Iraqi national committee for investment is going to present 212 investment projects including 80 projects for Kurdistan Region cities,” Mukhlis Salim Murad, general manager of the KRG’s investment committee for legal, administrative and economic affairs, told Rudaw.
The conference is an opportunity for Iraq to “present the feasibility studies and licenses for 60 key investment projects with total amount exceeds $85 billion,” according to the conference website.