Iraq Launches Five-year Plan for Economic Development

China’s Xinhua News Agency is so far the only source to report on Iraq’s new five-year National Development Plan (NDP), announced on Sunday. The plan targets annual economic growth of 9.4 percent and attempts to cut unemployment.

The country’s 2010-2014 NDP was announced in a televised event in Baghdad attended by top Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and the Minister of Planning, Ali Baban.

The plan will include more than 2,700 projects worth about US$186 billion and aims to diversify the Iraqi economy away from oil, as crude exports represent some 90 percent of the country’s revenue.

The NDP is also designed to achieve annual economic growth of 9. 4 percent with the goal of cutting the unemployment rate, now estimated at 15 percent, by providing some 3-4 million jobs.

In his speech, Maliki hailed the gathering and said that Iraq is moving in the right direction for reconstruction after years of violence and chaos.

“When we want to develop a country suffering from sabotage, we have to have stable plans and budgets,” Maliki said referring to the five-year development plan.

“I feel now that we have put the reconstruction on the right path,” Maliki said.

Maliki also called on Iraqi academic and professionals to come back to Iraq to participate in the reconstruction process saying “we have a huge reconstruction process and we need to harness all of our qualified and scientific potential abroad”.

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