Iraq has approved an ambitious $37-billion [45 trillion Iraqi dinar] programme to upgrade Iraq's collapsing infrastructure, which has fallen victim to three decades of war and sanctions, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh (pictured) said on Tuesday.
AFP reports that the cabinet's plans, which must now be approved by parliament, are the latest in efforts by the government to placate protesters who have railed against poor public services and a lack of improvement in their daily lives, eight years on from the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
The allocated funds, decided at a Monday evening cabinet meeting, will be spread over several years.
The draft law to authorise the investment has been languishing for more than a year, with Maliki having initially proposed it before March 2010 election.
Opposition parties at the time objected to it, viewing it as a pre-election spending spree to lure voters.
Areas to receive investment include:
- transport infrastructure, with $10 billion in spending planned, and an additional $1.5 billion for highways;
- $5 billion for education,
- $5 billion for water and sewerage;
- $5 billion for agriculture.
- $3 billion for health infrastructure; and,
- $2 billion for higher education.
"I hope parliament will approve these infrastructure projects... to develop services, because without the agreement of parliament, we cannot fulfill our ambitions to build houses, services, electricity and health," Maliki said at a news conference in Baghdad.