When tacking the problems of unemployment and illegal work practices, Iraq has a difficult balancing act to achieve.
On one hand, a civilised country cannot accept a situation where foreign labourers are tricked by traffickers to get them into the country illegally, and then told their pay will be a fraction of the minimum wage of $600 per month.
On the other hand, blanket quotas and restrictions on foreign workers increase the problems faced by legitimate businesses and workers, and slow the pace of development.
Iraq’s parliament is considering new laws to limit foreign workers by forcing employers to hire at least as many Iraqis.
Legislation, of course, is only followed by the law abiding, and will not concern those who already operate outside the system. And as labour minister Nasser al-Rubaie points out, the problem is by no means unique to Iraq.
But imposing an arbitrary 50% limit on foreign workers, regardless of their conditions, is unlikely to solve Iraq’s problems of unemployment and exploitation.