Here at Iraq Business News we have on several occasions raised the issue of restrictions on foreign workers entering Iraq.
This week, the problem raised its head once again when the leader of the business federation in Basra, Sabih Habib al-Hashemi, criticised the lack of skilled managers in the country:
“Most of the economic issues in the country are due to institutions and committees being managed by unspecialized people and this has negatively affected the Iraqi economy.”
And while smaller investment funds do operate in Iraq, the mainstream players have been put off by this lack of professional standards. As Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets, put it:
"We are interested in Iraq ...the problem is that they do not have a set up to allow investors to come in."
Iraq must raise its game, not just to attract mainstream institutional funds, but also to meet the needs of its home-grown businesses, such as those represented by Mr al-Hashemi, even if it means hiring talent from abroad.
In the words of Deng Xiaoping, "it doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice".