World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim (pictured) told a special session of the Iraqi parliament that the path to stability and shared growth in Iraq lay in empowering local governments, opening up and diversifying the economy, and improving the management of public finances by reforming the public sector and increasing accountability.
The speech came during a joint visit to Iraq by Kim and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to show international support for Iraq as it confronts the triple challenge of defeating Da’esh, maintaining momentum on reforms, and coping with the financial impact of the fall in oil prices.
“Even in the face of substantial challenges, democracy is taking root in Iraq,” Kim told members of parliament.
“Iraq has chosen the path of political inclusion – a decision that created difficult challenges and holds great promise. It requires political compromises to build the broad coalitions needed to achieve national goals. As complex as it may seem, as difficult as it may be, political inclusion is part of the critical path to long-term stability.”
The World Bank Group president said that the new atmosphere of open competition among different perspectives and the difficulty of building the necessary coalitions to achieve national goals were a positive sign.
Kim drew on Iraq’s historical legacy for lessons on how the great civilizations had thrived by balancing central authority with local autonomy. “Let me suggest that the best way to protect and preserve the cohesion of the country is to do what your forebears did, “said Kim. “Empower all its regions, and to give more capacity to local governments, all the way to the municipal level.”