The Iraqi government has approved only $927 million [1.1 billion Iraqi dinars] in the 2011 budget to tackle the electricity shortage in the country.
In February, the Ministry of Electricity had demanded $6 billion (6.99 trillion Dinars) to resolve the energy crisis. On top of that an investment of between $3 billion and $4 billion (3.5 trillion to 4.7 trillion Dinars) a year would be needed, a ministry spokesperson said then.
AKnews reports that the cabinet of Prime Minister Nuri al-Mailiki decided yesterday to spend only 16 percent of what was originally demanded for electricity projects, such as the installment of gas turbines that were purchased from General Electric and Siemens in 2008.
The government hopes to add up to 9,000 megawatts of electricity to the nation’s grid with these turbines.
With temperatures often soaring over 50 degrees Celsius during the summer months, demand for electricity in Iraq during this period is estimated at around 14,000 MW.
According to government figures, the energy currently available to Iraq stands at around 9,000 MW.
The provision of adequate electricity supplies was a central point of contention in the wave of public protests that swept through the Iraqi provinces in recent months.
In 2010, several civilians were killed in clashes with the police when angry protestors took to the streets to demonstrate against the government as national electricity supplies left them with just four hours of power a day.
Former Electricity Minister Karim Washid was forced to step down due to mounting public pressure.
Iraq’s acute shortage of electricity is the result of damage and neglect of its generating plants and power lines during more than three decades of economic sanctions, successive wars and more recently, targeting by insurgent groups.
(Sources: AKnews, Aswat al-Iraq)