By Padraig O'Hannelly.
A major conference has heard that Iraqi Kurdistan will prioritise a shift towards private enterprise and a more efficient public sector.
In his keynote speech to CWC/GFEn's Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum (KIEF) conference, held online, Kurdistan's Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani (pictured), said:
"We must create an environment to let the private sector do what they are good at ... [but] we know we must improve government performance and efficiency as well ...
"To that end, we are fast-tracking our administrative reforms; we have passed a major reform bill that eliminates waste and abuse in the public sector."
Looking at some specific sectors, the DPM added:
"We are finally moving towards privatisation of power distribution in Kurdistan. This will lead to more power direct to the homes, with less waste, with more robust controls and monitoring and collection services.
"Significant capital expenditure on roads will ensure a better road network that will support better trade ...
"Agriculture ... is at the forefront of our development. We have taken some bold steps to lessen our farmers' dependence on our government by encouraging the private sector to have a much greater role in our development."
Voicing criticism of the role of the central government in Baghdad, Talabani said:
"Rather than rely on Baghdad to acquire Kurdish wheat, and then not pay for it, we have recently partnered with the private sector to bring local wheat directly to our market.
"This initiative not only guarantees farmers returns on their products, it will provide thousands of jobs and fill not just Kurdistan's market but ... Iraq's and the region's with Kurdish wheat and wheat by-products."
Talabani said the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is putting in place legislation to steamline company registration, reducing the lead time from 26 days currently, to just 24 hours.
The virtual conference continues on Wednesday.