Iraq’s Missing Money

Now there is fear that the major political blocs in parliament would agree to approve at the time all the final accounts for the past years and issue parliamentary resolutions in this regard. Sabah al-Saadi, a former member of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee, reportedly said that the budgets of the past years “have been spent but there is no reconstruction of infrastructure, no investments, no fixing of the electricity, no housing, and no solution to the water scarcity or other problems. ...

The budgets that were spent from 2006 to 2012 amounted to $614 billion. That is in addition to the 2013 budget, for a total of $727 billion. This is enough money to build a completely new Iraq.” It is also noteworthy that the Iraqi parliament has failed to approve the 2014 budget and has returned it several times to the Council of Ministers to make amendments because of the presence of many irregularities.

The loss of hundreds of billions of dollars a year — in light of the extreme poverty that the country is still suffering from — is a major scandal. According to statements by current senior officials, there were many “spacemen” during Maliki’s rule. “Spacemen” are individuals that get registered as employees in the civil and military institutions but who do not show up for work or perform any work in official bodies while getting paid their monthly salaries. The top official in the state and the commander of the armed forces throughout this period was Maliki.

This information raises many questions, including: Will the chairman of the finance committee in parliament, Ahmad Chalabi, seek to obtain the approval of the parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri to start an investigation into this matter? Will the matter be discussed in public hearings of the finance committee and in the presence of media and civil society organizations?

In the absence of transparency, who is the ultimate beneficiary of these billions of dollars? Are they only Iraqi politicians, or was a large part of the money transferred to neighboring countries — especially Iran and Syria — to help those two countries bypass the international embargo imposed on them?

If the money were sent to only some politicians, this means local politicians have accumulated huge funds, which they can use in future political campaigns to return to power. If the money was transferred to neighboring countries, it means that the previous government paid for its survival throughout the period by helping Iran spread its regional influence and by helping the Syrian regime stay in power.

(Corruption image via Shutterstock)

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