How Much Does Iraq Really Need For its Budget?

By Seerwan Jafar.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s 2013 budget amounts to US$118 billion. But the figures don’t add up. Doing the sums results in one conclusion: unless something is done differently, Iraq will face serious debt and development problems.

In late October, the Iraqi Cabinet, headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, approved the 2013 draft budget. The total amount approved was USD $118 billion, making for an US$18 billion increase on 2012’s budget and making the budget Iraq’s highest ever. The draft will eventually go to the Iraqi Parliament for ratification.

If one considers the state of Iraq – still plagued by power cuts, growing youth unemployment and almost totally dependent on oil revenues – then an increase is surely a positive thing. But will this upcoming budget do the trick?

If Iraq is to become a more developed nation, is this increase enough and is it sustainable? And if it’s not, then what would the Iraqi budget be ideally?

A look at the facts and the figures around this issue may help to work out an answer to those questions. Iraq is near to completely reliant on oil revenues. Oil exports account for 95 percent of government revenues and are equal to 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

8 Responses to How Much Does Iraq Really Need For its Budget?

  1. Nibras Hadi 28th December 2012 at 16:13 #

    "The International Energy Agency predicts that Iraq will produce more and more oil – up to 4.4 billion barrels per day by 2020"(2nd to last paragraph - before the conclusion.

    Really ????? I think that's an obvious mistake.

  2. Kickabuck 29th December 2012 at 00:57 #

    Rework your figures, this number is insane:

    4.4 billion barrels per day by 2020

    Do you realize what they are producing now?

  3. Ramy S. 31st December 2012 at 07:13 #

    Kickabuck, I believe they meant "4.4 Million", Saudi produces only 11 million today, that figure is surely a mistake.

    Great article though, I loved it. This is why I love this site, it shows the other side of Iraq.

  4. Seerwan 2nd January 2013 at 14:48 #

    Dear Nibras and Kickabuck,

    The entire article is referenced on my blog (
    This is the link to the International Energy Agency Iraq Energy Outlook, demonstrating that in the view of the IEA, Iraq will be exporting 4.4 million bpd in 2020 in the Central Scenario (please scroll to page 114):

    In any case gentlemen, whether Iraq will export 4.4 or 7.1 (the IEA High Case scenario) mbpd in 2020, the point still stands that it's simply not enough to fund government spending to a developed nation level.

    Dear Ramy,

    The highest Saudi Arabia has produced in thirty years was 10.1m bpd set in June 2012 (, but according to OPEC figures Saudi Arabia exported an average of 7.2 million bpd in 2011 (which naturally was the latest annual figure at the time writing the article). Please see page 49 of the OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin:
    Glad you liked the article.

    Thank you all for your interest.

    Best regards,
    Seerwan Jafar

  5. Editor 2nd January 2013 at 15:42 #

    Dear Seerwan,

    many thanks for your comments - much appreciated! I've amended the text from '4.4 billion' to '4.4 million'.

    Best Regards,

  6. Seerwan 2nd January 2013 at 17:42 #

    Not at all.
    Thanks Editor.

  7. Ramy 4th January 2013 at 13:28 #

    Dear Seerwan, Thanks for stating those facts, I only meant 11million is their highest ever, also I was wrong there.

    I also saw your blog, amazing work! keep it up Seerwan.

  8. Seerwan 4th January 2013 at 18:37 #

    Dear Ramy,
    Oh, I see. My apologies.

    Thank you very much. Pleased you enjoyed my work.

    Best regards,
    Seerwan Jafar