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NIC may Compensate Investors who suffered due to ISIS Terrorism

By John Lee.

The Chairwoman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Suha Daoud Najjar, has confirmed that the NIC is studying compensating investors who are still continuing their investment projects despite suspension for four years due to ISIS terrorist gangs.

She indicated that the study includes submitting a proposal to the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Finance to extend customs and tax exemption period for those projects guaranteed by the investment law for projects with investment license, where the extension period will be determined according to the status of each project and the duration of its suspension.

During a press conference held while visiting a number of projects in Nineveh Governorate, NIC Chairwoman expressed her happiness with the growing investment movement in the governorate in the various economic sectors, as well as the seriousness of investors to move forward to implement their investment projects that contribute to solving part of the unemployment crisis in the governorate and restore its distinguished position as a cornerstone of the Iraqi economy. She pointed out that the government is sparing no effort to increase investment opportunities in Mosul in various sectors.

During her visit to the governorate, on Tuesday, August 17, NIC Chairwoman inspected a number of important investment projects in the city, listening to the investors' comments and suggestions regarding the development of these projects, including the project of Mosul Iron and Steel Company, which costs 20 million dollars and has a design production capacity of 260 tons/ day of standard rebar, In addition to the residential city of Ain Al-Iraq, to build (4000) housing units, at a cost of more than two hundred and eighty-nine billion Dinars. She concluded her visit with a meeting with Mr. Najm Abdullah Al-Jubouri, Governor of Nineveh, during which she discussed the available investment opportunities and the possibilities of overcoming the obstacles facing the reality of investment in the province.

(Source: NIC)

Posted in Investment, Iraq Industry & Trade News 0 Comments

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Kurdistan's Unemployed Youth Blame Govt

From Rudaw. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kurdistan's unemployed youth blame the government

Jobless youth in the Kurdistan Region blame the government for their situation as unemployment and poverty have increased under an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to read the full story.

Posted in Politics 0 Comments

London School of Economics (LSE) Middle East Centre

Water Governance in Basra

By Michael Mason, for the London School of Economics (LSE) Middle East Centre.

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

Water Governance in Basra

In summer 2018 protests erupted in Basra amidst a water contamination crisis, with over 100,000 admitted to hospital by the end of October.

While the grievances aired included chronic corruption and unemployment, the toxic waters, clogged with sewage and other waste, served as the focus of people's anger.

The public health emergency in Basra was only one manifestation of a water supply crisis in the governorate, which has also seen a collapse in agricultural yields as a result of increased water salinity, lower river levels and reduced rainfall.

These physical impacts mask a longer-term deterioration of water governance in Basra, which has roots in previous decades of armed conflict and sanctions, as well as upstream damming of the Tigris, Euphrates and Karun rivers.

Click here to read the full paper.

Posted in Agriculture, Construction & Engineering In Iraq, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Iraq Public Works News 0 Comments

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Innovative Projects Launched in Karbala

Three innovative projects focusing on environmental sustainability, jobs for unemployed youth and digitization of the public sector have today been launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq in partnership with the Governorate of Karbala.

The project launches reaffirm UNDP Iraq's commitment to supporting communities in Karbala, and included:

  • Job Matching for Karbala Youth which provides long-term sustainable employment for Karbala's youth by working closely with the private sector to explore their employment needs. Under this project, youth will undertake training and have access to internship and employment opportunities in the private sector based on market needs.
  • Karbala GIS Mapping System which digitally transforms the public sector, enhancing the quality of public services provided to citizens in Karbala. A data dashboard for Governorate officials as well as a mobile application for residents to access public services online are key features of this project.
  • Karbala Composting Pilot which will promote environmentally sound waste management in Iraq by creating a value chain for compost for the private sector and encourage efficient management of sustainable production and utilization of compost. This project is led by UNDP Iraq with assistance from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and involves the Karbala governorate, private sector and local communities.

Joining the Governor of Karbala and Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq for the launches were the Federal Minister for Youth and Sport, Federal Minister for Communications as well as the UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG), Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

The Governor of Karbala, Nassif Al-Khattabi stated:

"The local government in Karbala has had a long-standing partnership with UNDP. The partnership has supported the government's response to COVID-19, establishing the Karbala data center and the smart Karbala mobile application.

"We have also worked together to improve access to jobs for young people within the private sector and tackling environmental challenges through sustainable solutions such as producing organic fertilizer from waste.

"We stand committed to working with UNDP to complete these projects and launch newer initiatives towards achieving the SDGs."

DSRSG in Iraq Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano who approved the funds for the composting project through the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund said:

"We are proud to support this pilot composting project - a first in Iraq - which will use environmentally friendly methods and generate green jobs for communities in Karbala. Pending it's success, I look forward to seeing it rolled out across the country."

Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad added:

"Today's project launches reaffirm UNDP's long-standing partnership with the Karbala Governorate in key areas affecting the community - particularly youth unemployment and efficient delivery of public services which many people have been vocal about in recent years. We look forward to seeing these projects materialise and subsequently meet the critical needs of communities in Karbala."

(Source: UN)

Posted in Agriculture, Employment, Iraq Industry & Trade News Comments Off on Innovative Projects Launched in Karbala

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Supporting Small Businesses in Baghdad, Ninewa and Kirkuk

IOM, KOICA Partner to Support Local Economic Recovery in Baghdad, Ninewa and Kirkuk

Decades of conflict in Iraq coupled with the COVID-19 outbreak have severely affected human capital, intensified poverty, and undermined individuals' ability to find decent and sustainable jobs.

The consequences of conflicts are especially severe for vulnerable returnees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities who continue to need access to livelihoods opportunities and recovery initiatives.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will extend its support to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through a USD 5 million grant; with this funding from KOICA,

IOM Iraq will contribute to local economic recovery and community resilience in Iraq through increasing access to sustainable and decent work. The overall objective of the project is to support job creation, entrepreneurship and the growth of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as to encourage productive employment, including for women.

"During the ISIL crisis, millions were displaced and local economies were destroyed; the loss of livelihood opportunities and the lack of vital services in areas of origin are clear obstacles to return for those who remain in displacement across Iraq," said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. "This partnership with KOICA will reinforce IOM's efforts to address protracted displacement and create the conditions for sustainable returns."

"Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the globe, youth unemployment has become more serious than before. Especially in Iraq, the ISIL crisis and COVID-19 have had a catastrophic impact on society," said KOICA Chief Director Mr. LEE Dong Hyun. "We hope this project will contribute to recovery from the socioeconomic damage done to Iraq's vulnerable populations."

The project's interventions will target the most vulnerable sections of the population in Baghdad, Ninewa and Kirkuk, with a focus on durable solutions for IDPs, specifically access to livelihoods and employment. The grant will also go towards helping businesses in conflict-affected areas recover from the damage suffered, re-start their operations, and offer much needed jobs to the local community.

To facilitate the creation of sustainable job opportunities, IOM Iraq will offer vocational training; farmer training; on-the-job training; and support for the establishment or expansion of micro-businesses through business support packages.

Sustainable job opportunities will be created by supporting SMEs with grants through the Enterprise Development Fund (EDF). In addition, IOM Iraq will utilize a referral system to match individuals who are identified and trained in the individual livelihood assistance (ILA) component of the project with employment opportunities created via the businesses supported under the EDF.

IOM's approach includes a strong element of community participation, especially in initial engagements with the community, to determine livelihood needs and priorities. The project will also ensure that women are supported to meaningfully engage in mainstream economic recovery and development in Iraq.

Under the project, IOM will work closely with the Government of Iraq as well as with local authorities, community, religious and tribal leaders, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders to mitigate challenges related to limited economic opportunities and limited access to essential services in the targeted areas.

(Source: UN)

Posted in Iraq Industry & Trade News Comments Off on Supporting Small Businesses in Baghdad, Ninewa and Kirkuk

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Video and Report: IBBC Agritech Zoom Webinar

The IBBC Agritech seminar examined the possibilities and opportunities for a modern agricultural industry in Iraq.

Drawing from international NGO insights from the UN's ITC, the World Bank and two of the UK's leading agritech innovation institutions, the distinguished audience heard what technologies and investment are possible for Iraq to embrace. Padraig O'Hannelly, MD of Iraq Business News (IBN) (please see IBN report here) gave a succinct and insightful opening view on the facts and dynamics of agriculture in Iraq.

We learned the ITC intend to invest 23m Euro in the next five years, to prepare and develop the supply chains, Government policy, enterprises, youth engagement and marketisation of agricultural products, while the World Bank initially investing $30m in Infrastructure to prepare for a larger $100m investment.

From the UK's Agri Epi Centre (please see the presentation here) and Rothamsted research institutions we saw how the use of satellite data, internet technologies  can manage crops and livestock, and guage condition of soil and use of genetics in dry regions, and the willingness to develop research capacity in Iraq with Universities,  and proposed smart farm pilots and private landlords and investors to kick start a long term modernisation of the sector.

Key insights evolved around the under capacity and use of Iraqi land - perhaps as much as 50% of the land is under, or not used for agriculture, and while the population is set to grow rapidly, imports of food are expensive and unreliable, and young people require jobs, there is a compelling argument to develop the sector and diversify the economy from oil.

For example, every job in agriculture provides a further 5 jobs in the food supply chain. Encouraging young people into the industry, not only solves many unemployment issues, but will also drive higher output and the embrace of new technologies for productivity and wealth creation.

The second panel focused on SME's and practical investment initiatives- hearing from Bell Finance and Kapita (please see Kapita's agritech report here) and IAIN for their willingness to invest in appropriate, start up and developed SME's, and from Oxfams' Iraq Innovation hub, where Dhuha Abdlmunem presented three innovative and exciting Iraqi start ups covering Mushroom, Animal feed and IOT management.

Hydro-C ( seed imports) and HK potatoes provided fantastic insights in current state of the art potato production and supply chain developments, with ambitions to provide Iraq with self sufficiency in potato production in the next few years. Tom Williams of British Water and Enebio showed a range of low cost effective sensor technologies, water domes (with low cost investment) for crops, salt production and desalination benefits, as well as waste processing, water and energy production systems that can deliver a virtuous sustainable and profitable system for cities like Basra, Mosul and Baghdad.

All agreed there is enormous potential in Iraqi agriculture, but investment, market supply chains, government policy, training and research, soil care and water provision, as well as modernisation through technology are all required to move forward to what can be a successful and productive future.

The event was attended by the Agricultural ministry, Baghdad University, Dohuk University, IBBC members and a wide range of companies and institutions present in Iraq.

For more information on the speakers and industrial opportunities for investment, please contact IBBC: [email protected]

Please click here to view the full webinar.

Posted in Agriculture, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Politics Comments Off on Video and Report: IBBC Agritech Zoom Webinar

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Private Sector Development: Iraq's Long-lost Solution

By Mohammed Hussein, for The Iraqi Economists Network (IEN). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Private Sector Development: Iraq's Long-lost Solution

Six years passed since the Iraqi government launched its Private Sector Development Strategy 2014-2030, aiming to reform regulatory frames and market conditions towards private sector-led growth. Several international partners (including UNDP, World Bank, GIZ, and USAID) also attempted to help realize some goals of the strategy.

Along with the strategy, Iraqi leaders have always been advised to diversify the rentier economy to cope with their challenges of unemployment (at 13 per cent) and poverty (at 31.7 per cent), but things are not moving forward.

The economy is still heavily state-dominated and crude oil-dependent, whereby oil revenues constitute more than 98 per cent of exports, 63 - 67 per cent of GDP, and up to 93 per cent of Federal Budget revenues.

What has hindered the private sector development (PSD) strategy remains as a set of institutional challenges. Although most of the challenges are technical, they can be addressed once a reformist political leadership is in charge.

This article is an attempt to find out how the institutional challenges hindered the PSD strategy, assuming that institutions enforcing laws and regulating the private sector matter for economic growth. It also suggests some policy recommendations that could help to tackle the challenges given the current potentials and political constraints.

Please click here to read the full report.

(Source: IEN)

Posted in Investment, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Politics 1 Comment

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IBBC launches New Paper on Corruption in Iraq

Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) seminar to launch Professor Frank Gunter's publication on Corruption in Iraq:

Corruption Worse Than ISIS: Causes and Cures for Iraqi Corruption

In a well-attended online seminar, with leading International and Iraqi businesses, Embassy officials and media, Professor Frank Gunter outlined some of the key points in his paper on Corruption in Iraq.

Hard estimates of at least 22% of people having to pay a bribe annually, and the systemic and petty corruption that has become endemic, his solutions focus on the economic supply side of corruption and the cost in jobs and opportunities that Iraqi is missing as a result of work and investment not being made.

In particular the requirement for Iraq to create at least 350,000 jobs a year just to halt unemployment from rising from its estimated 80% impact on unemployed or underemployed youth. Where jobs and opportunities are in short supply, the entry cost of getting one encourages bribes at all levels of public activity.

State bureaucracy and the awarding of political contracts could account for lost business in the region of at least $80bn since 2003 .

The application of state subsidies for large swathes of the economy that fail to provide sufficient capacity for demand, also encourage bribes for areas such as power, education, health and business facilitations. Ending subsidies and expansion in the private sector would help align demand with supply and reduce the requirement for bribery, whilst affording the poorest higher benefit payments, as would reducing the regulatory burden of starting, closing and running a company, particularly for SMEs.

Beyond the market supply of business regulation and capacity in the country Dr Renad Mansour, Fellow at Chatham house, made the devastating points that corruption starts with the whole political ecosystem of patronage and payments that ensure elected ministers and politicians have to repay their debts to their investors, while tribal loyalties and the role of a corrupt civil service weaken the power of politicians to change the system.

The key question is, 'Where do you begin to dismantle corruption in the system?' Ms Maya Gebeily , journalist, made the points that The judiciary is subject to payments, and if there is no trust in the law, the system fails. The role of writers, journalists can be significant in influencing attitudes to cultural corruption, and those that people listen to include both protestors and religious leaders, who can take a lead in influencing behaviours and attitudes.

Mr Shwan Aziz, chair, fielded many questions and points were made by the audience, including the request for more evidential data to back up aspertions - to which the panel made the point that its many of the things that don't happen, that should, must be factored into the impact of corruption, that it may be easier for large companies with resources than sme's who find regulations and corruption a stranglehold on growth.

For more information, please view the video of the session below:

Watch the webinar here

Read the paper in English here

Posted in Investment, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Security Comments Off on IBBC launches New Paper on Corruption in Iraq

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Iraq passes $89bn Federal Budget Bill

By Joe Snell for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq passes $89 billion federal budget bill

The budget confronted issues of unemployment, currency devaluation and non-oil revenues and was passed as lawmakers prepare for October's general election; the challenge is implementation.

Click here to read the full article.

Posted in Iraq Banking & Finance News, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Iraq Oil & Gas News, Politics Comments Off on Iraq passes $89bn Federal Budget Bill

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Iraqi PM's Job Development Office: Best Chance to Reduce Unemployment

By Dr. Layth Mahdi. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Prime Minister's Job Development Office: Best Chance for Reducing Unemployment and Poverty

Iraq economy has suffered for the past 18 years due to continued violence, economic mismanagement, flawed policies and the absence of leadership and decision-makers running the state. This economic decline has resulted in political instability, corruptions, unemployment and poverty.

The Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in cooperation with the Provincial Councils and representatives of the state departments developed the first Provincial Development Strategy (PDS) for each governorate during 2007-2011.

The strategy represented a comprehensive vision for the people and was capable of introducing development and reform to improve the standard of living, social and economic prosperity, essential services and security. However, this strategy was never implemented and was neglected by the Iraqi Provincial Officials due to the lack of vision and poor management.

Their unwillingness to implement the proposed initiatives led to the deterioration of education, health services, and increased rates of illiteracy, poverty and unemployment. The trust between the citizens and the local governments was lost. Iraqi citizens starting losing hope of a better future and protests spread demanding change and reform.

Iraqi's Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's cabinet approved the White Paper for Economic Reforms last October. The document offers a three-year plan for how Iraq's financial dilemma can be mitigated. The plan outlines a strategy for the government to wean the country off its excess dependence on oil for state revenues by introducing changes at the Ministry of Finance, reforming the contracted economic sectors and dysfunctional state administration, rebuilding the rundown infrastructure and providing basic services.

While experts agree such tough measures are necessary, they will be difficult to implement and will likely face resistance from the Iraqi public especially since many of these initiatives have failed in previous governments. And in the absence of a concrete implementation plan, those proposed systems remain vague and unclear.

It is in my opinion that the only way forward with Iraqi's turmoil is if the Prime Minister creates a Job Development Office (JDO) that is managed by socio-economic development advisor(s). The advisor(s) will then delegate and direct the government ministries. Each ministry should designated employees to liaison with the JDO, work alongside the other ministries and report back to their respective ministry.

The JDO will mainly operate as a program manager where it will set targets and lead the initiatives to create jobs. As the JDO demonstrates it can deliver results it can scale their program nationwide, while gaining support from local authority and the private sector. More importantly the JDO can establish its credibility with international organizations to build trust that has historically been tainted due to corruption.

For example: Iraq currently has thousands of private factories that are not operating due to equipment malfunction or skilled labor shortages. The JDO in with the Ministers can facilitate the restoration of the factories in collaboration with the OEM's and local service providers. Working with the owners the local leader and NGO's the JDO will supervise a training and recruitment campaign to provide the required skilled labor to operate the Factory.

The Job Development Office can create a task force that will be the cornerstone of Iraq's job development. The task force should focus on relationship building, training, exchanging of ideas, problem solving, resolving conflicts/challenges, and innovation.  The task force will also be responsible for streamlining all information directed from the Prime Minister and his advisor(s).

The Job Development Office's only hope is with the support and initiative of the Prime Minister who in turn can attract foreign support and investment to facilitate and offer opportunities for the Iraqi people.

Posted in Employment, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Politics Comments Off on Iraqi PM's Job Development Office: Best Chance to Reduce Unemployment