The Resource Curse: Will Ordinary Iraqis Ever See Their Oil Money?

Iraq is on the way to becoming one of the biggest oil exporters in the world. As a nation it earns billions. But many ordinary Iraqis live in poverty. Now calls for a direct cash payout to each citizen are getting louder, according to this article from NIQASH.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq's oil production facilities are recovering after years of violence and unrest. The state has grand plans for increasing oil exports and the nation should, by all rights, be a wealthy one. But as Baghdad student Istabraq Ghazi strolls the streets, she says she sees absolutely no evidence of that wealth.

“You just need to look at how many beggars there are at traffic lights and junctions to work out what the economic situation is in Iraq,” she says.

For Ghazi, it is clear that the average household income of Iraqis was not sufficient to cover costs. It also seemed clear to her that the government hadn’t spent Iraq’s oil income in a way that served its citizens best. In fact recent statistics from both the United Nations and the Iraqi government itself indicate that anywhere between a quarter and one third of Iraqis live in poverty.

Meanwhile the government has ambitious plans to boost Iraq's oil output to 12 million barrels per day by 2017 and although this forecast is considered overly optimistic, there’s no doubt that if things go according to plan, Iraq is well on the way to becoming one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.

So perhaps it’s hardly surprising that calls advocating giving the country’s oil wealth directly to its people are growing louder.

Proponents of what is known as a direct oil dividend argue that direct cash transfers would very quickly eradicate the most severe poverty and would increase loyalty to the state in a country divided – often violently - between various communities, sects and ethnicities.

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