By Dr. Layth Mahdi. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq: A roadmap for successful economic development
With every change of government, we hear similar political statements about rebuilding Iraq. I genuinely believe the Iraqi people are capable of developing an economy that can prosper and move away from being an oil dependent nation.
Despite previous initiatives, the Iraqi population continues to fall into poverty, with over half living below the poverty line and the illiteracy rate climbing to more than 25% over the last 20 years. The situation is even more dire in the southern Iraqi provinces, although they are the main producers of oil.
Fortunately, Iraq has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources that can easily finance its redevelopment. Iraq suffers from a lack of domestic expertise in program development, budget mismanagement, and insufficient global partnerships.
Sadly, many government officials view their role as a means of benefiting themselves rather than serving the country and its people. Fundamentally, there is a need to appoint a leader that will drive domestic cooperation between different government bodies.
Iraq needs to look to other developed countries and emulate similar development plans. There is a need to drive down corruption, but despite its presence, significant results can still be achieved.
A successful roadmap for reducing poverty and providing job opportunities is a government program that includes the following:
- A multi-faceted approach to education and training.
- Target future generations by providing youth with every opportunity to educate themselves through public education programs.
- Provide opportunities for often neglected Iraqi youth who show no interest or do not seek out higher education with an alternative means to success. This can be achieved via Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs offering the opportunity to learn specific and practical job skills.
- Job creation, private sector, and government initiatives.
To break the cycle of illiteracy and unemployment, the government must:
- Support agricultural programs especially in rural areas. If not, we will continue to see mass migration of our youth towards the main cities.
- Empower the private sector, which should be the largest employer in the country.
- Protect businesses from extortion.
- Revise government policies to enable and promote high levels of manufacturing and production.
- Promote small and medium business development.
- Education and job creation are the foundation of every successful nation.
Iraq must not repeat previous rebuilding programs that were merely politically motivated public relation initiatives.
There needs to be transparency, accountability and ultimately cooperation between domestic government bodies and international organizations to rebuild Iraq.
Without the right leader driven by a strong vision and motivation to build robust foundations, we would evolve into an idle society, stunting any future development of the country. Along the way, the only beneficiaries would be those who robbed the country of its wealth.
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