By Dr. Layth Mahdi.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq at a Crossroads – Will the New Government Succeed in Restoring Security and Economic Growth
Iraq is experiencing a severe socio-economic crisis due to the country’s inability to develop and implement programs to drive economic growth. Iraq is still facing political instability, sever corruption and lack of vision from its leadership to resolve the country’s problems.
With the recent liberation of major cities from the insurgency, Iraq now stands at a critical junction in its history. Iraq has said it needs $88 to $100 billion, but it was promised only $30 billion during the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.
The real success lies in Iraq presenting its cause to the International Community and gaining its confidence. Iraq has a chance to capitalize on the security situation and rebuild the economy and trust from its people.
In order to continue to build trust with Iraq’s allies and investors the new strong Government needs to focus on the following points:
- Reestablishing the national army and police as the sole enforcer of the law;
- Anti corruption measures to ensure the benefit of its population;
- Review Government policies and procedures to minimize bureaucracy and promote foreign investment.
With the poverty rate reaching over 40 percent and unemployment continues to rise, Iraq is in dire need of large-scale projects for sustainable development to be reached. There needs to be a focus on the rebuilding the agricultural and manufacturing sector to stop the increase in poverty and unemployment.
There also needs to be an investment in education, healthcare and basic services, support for small and medium businesses, and empowerment of youth whom suffer the highest unemployment.
Recently there has also been a significant increase of drug use where with drug related arrests more than doubling across the country. Prior to 2003 Iraq was considered drug-free however with the further deterioration of the agricultural sector and the increase in poverty and unemployment, some farmers may grow narcotic plants commercially as cash crops due to the increased in demand locally.
Any initiatives in place to curb drug use would fail if the problems of poverty and unemployment were not addressed properly.
There are new parliamentary elections on the horizon giving Iraq a chance to finally restore itself back to its glory. This will only be successful with the help of International Organizations, NGO’s and most importantly strong Government officials with the right vision.