An Iraqi economist says the country will lose $22 million because of “extra” Eid al-Fitr holidays that the Iraqi government announced.
Eid al-Fitr, which follows the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is usually three days, however, AKnews reports that the Iraqi government last week extended the holidays to six day, to accommodate differences between the Sunni and Shia calendars.
Ali Keji, an economic analyst with the Iraqi Market Center, told the agency that “according to the preliminary estimates, Iraq will lose approximately $22 million [26 billion Iraqi dinars] due to the suspension of the stock market during the six days”.
He complained that the “government does not respect economic problems because of the holidays. It takes such a decision without consulting the Securities Commission and the Central Bank.”
Iraq’s stock exchange (ISX) handled 210 billion shares worth about $326 million since January, an increase of about 40% on last year. In 2010, the total fiscal year’s 255 billion shares were worth about $342 million.
Hundreds of Iraqi and foreign businessmen and share-holders deal with the ISX.
Salam al-Quraishi, an economic adviser to the Iraqi government said “the holidays cause delays in the economic and commercial transactions but not huge money losses”
He defended the government’s position saying they have talked to economic institutions before taking on any such decision to extend the holidays to six days.
“When the Iraqi government decided the Eid al-Fitr holiday to be extended for six days, it had actually consulted economic institutions and looked into its impacts on economic activities.”