British Minister of State Alan Duncan visited Iraq last week. He met with Government of Iraq and international partners to discuss the future of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Iraq programme, how oil and gas revenues could help to provide basic services to the Iraqi people and what the Iraqi government could do to encourage businesses to invest in Iraq. He also met young people to hear about their hopes for the future.
He outlined to Government and international partners the outcome of the DFID Bilateral Aid Review and the Multilateral Aid Review and the decision to close the DFID office in Baghdad in March 2012. Until then the programme will focus on governance and wealth creation. He noted however, that March 2012 would not be the end for DFID, since several programmes already paid for would continue to deliver results until March 2014. These included work with the IMF, with the IFC and on demining. He heard how other bilateral donors, notably the US, were now also working on their own transition plans for their operations in Iraq.
The Minister highlighted in many of his meetings the need for Iraq to mobilise its significant oil and gas resources for the benefit of the Iraqi people and the need to improve the investment climate to attract businesses and create jobs. His background in oil and business enabled well-informed discussions with Iraqis and the international oil companies on the obstacles and the solutions required.
The Minister was keen to speak to young Iraqi people and travelled to Baghdad University to meet with staff and students involved in a DFID-funded, British Council-run project to improve higher education teaching. The students shared their hopes that that modern teaching practices would better equip them for the job market.
(Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office)