KRG “Giving Out Land to Phantom Investors”

To encourage investment in Iraqi Kurdistan, state authorities are able to gift land to important projects. However the process is plagued by corruption and injustice and has resulted in empty plots, unfinished projects and some undeservedly wealthy locals, according to this article from Niqash.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author and interviewee, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

There’s an unremarkable piece of land in the middle of the relatively upmarket neighbourhood of Ainkawa, in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. About 6,500 meters square, covered in dry yellowing grass and sprinkled with unused bricks as well as rocks and stones, the casual passerby wouldn’t normally pay much attention to it.

But although they wouldn’t know it to look at, this piece of land was meant for a “creative project” worth around US$2 million. The land was gifted to a Kurdish artist who lives outside of the country by Iraqi Kurdistan’s Board of Investment, a body charged with encouraging investment and business opportunities in the semi-autonomous region. And this particular project was to include studios for the television and theatrical productions.

But that was in August of 2008. Over the past three years, since the property changed hands, there has been no sign that the land is being developed at all. And nobody seems to know when, or if, any kind of development might proceed.

Television personality Ali Hama Salih, the host of a show that uncovers corruption on the satellite channel Kurdish New Network, a media outlet affiliated with the Change party, a Kurdish opposition group with eight seats in Baghdad’s federal parliament that broke away from the main political parties in the region in 2006 to demand an end to corruption and nepotism among the current leaders, pointed out that this unrealized project was just one of many similar ones.

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