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Wishful thinking—Should Iraq reach for the stars or go back to basics first?

Wishful thinking—Should Iraq reach for the stars or go back to basics first?

Scepticism abound on Iraq’s ambitious multibillion projects as Iraqis are left preoccupied with getting basic utilities. And, budget shortfalls aren’t helping the cause.

August 22, 2011 12:22 by



…150,000 flats, stores, parks and cinemas over 10 years. It was first announced in 2008, but Iraq has yet to award the deal to anyone.

The government says projects like the high-speed train and urban metro are achievable and blames the slow progress on budget shortfalls.

“The projects the ministries have put forward are realistic and serious,” said Iraq’s Planning Minister Ali al-Shukri.

“Their plans and estimated costs are ready but the issue all ministries face is that of financing.”

Iraq’s 2011 budget was $82.6 billion based on an average oil price of $76.50 per barrel and the deficit at $13.4 billion.

The Finance Ministry drew the 2012 budget at $98.3 billion based on oil prices of $85 a barrel with a deficit of $13.7 billion. It still needs cabinet and parliamentary approval.

STAGGERED PAYMENTS

Shukri said the government was leaning towards staggered payment contracts, where payments will be divided over a longer period of time, with interest, in order to go ahead with such big projects.

In addition to an overground metro, Baghdad is also looking at the construction of an underground rail transport system.

Plans for the underground, which date back to the 1980s, were first revived about three years ago. So far, the design of the metro is still being drawn up.

Baghdad Mayor Saber al-Issawi said part of the 2012 budget had been allocated to funding the metro, estimated to cost $3-4 billion, and asked for patience, saying infrastructure projects took a lot of time across the globe.

“Preparation of huge projects, even in advanced countries take three, four or even five years,” he said.”It is a matter of time.” (By AseelKami)



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