By Mustafa Habib.
Despite billions in oil income, Iraq says it cannot afford to build the infrastructure citizens badly need. A draft law allows Iraq to borrow money to get various jobs done. But the proposal seems to be going nowhere fast.
A few days ago Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (pictured) threatened to move forward with a draft law on Iraqi infrastructure – with or without parliament’s approval.
The law, which has been in the pipeline for several years already, would allow the government to enter into contracts with international firms on infrastructure projects in Iraq, improving services in areas like water supply, power and education. All of these are things that ordinary Iraqis would very much like to see working properly in their country.
The infrastructure law would allow the Iraqi state to basically take out “loans” with companies tasked with the jobs and then repay them at a later date.
But the law’s political opponents have a different opinion: they believe that the conditions of the law might allow foreign firms that are not paid on time to take control of Iraq’s oil, the country’s major source of income.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been trying to push the law through for some time. It had previously been rejected by all political parties except for al-Maliki’s own. The law was also added to the 2012 federal budget – however when parliament voted on the draft budget, the related paragraph was removed.