Abadi’s Reforms Welcome, but Vigilance Needed

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Dramatic moves this week by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to tackle corruption and bureaucracy have been widely welcomed, both within Iraq and internationally.

Abolishing senior positions such as those of Deputy President and Deputy Prime Minister — there were three of each — scrapping sectarian and party quotas for state positions, and trimming the benefits enjoyed by those at the top can all be seen as steps in the right direction.

And having pushed for a leaner, cleaner and more efficient public sector since our creation in 2010, Iraq Business News wishes the Prime Minister every success with his initiative — but with a word of caution:

A bloated cabinet and civil service is a result, in part, of the perceived need to allocate plum jobs ‘fairly’ amongst the parties. In a world where those in authority could be relied upon to act in the best interests of all the people, rather than just of their particular constituency and support base, such measures would be entirely unnecessary.

But as it is practically impossible to find an example anywhere in the world where that Utopian vision has been achieved, it would perhaps be unfair to expect Iraq, with its recent history of bitter conflict, to live up to those ideals. Checks and balances are therefore necessary to prevent the abuse of power and the alienation of sections of the population.

It would be hard to argue that the system up to now has been successful in bringing all sides together, and in the meantime the twin evils of corruption and patronage have continued to degrade society and stifle enterprise. Something has to change, and this may be the start of that process.

Vigilance will be needed, however, to ensure that this is not the start of a power grab.

(Flag image via Shutterstock)

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