By John Lee.

Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi received Baroness Emma Nicholson, the Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), at his office on Sunday to discuss cooperation between Iraqi and British businesses, and proposed investment projects in Iraq.

The Prime Minister said that stability in Iraq provides an opportunity to increase reconstruction efforts, and welcomed cooperation between Iraqi and British companies through the IBBC.

Baroness Nicholson praised developments in Iraq, expressing the desire to expand cooperation and partnership further.

(Source: Media office of the prime minister)

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdonnaser Hemmati said Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has voiced “his firm support” for the banking deal reached between the two countries on Tuesday night and called for its rapid implementation.

“After a long and four-hour meeting last night with the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, I had a very good and constructive meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq on Wednesday, February 6,” Hemmati said in a post on social media.

“I appreciated his determination to develop political and economic relations between the two countries,” he wrote.

“He declared his firm support for the two sides’ banking agreement and urged the governor of Iraq’s Central Bank to quickly pursue and implement the deal,” Hemmati stated.

In a meeting between Hemmati and his Iraqi counterpart, Ali Mohsen al-Allaq, in Baghdad on Tuesday night, the agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties was signed.

In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air conditioners.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran in November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Rouhani hoped that cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad would contribute to regional security and stability.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has been in power since last October.

When he was appointed, he gave parliament 100 days to end its deadlock and begin implementing much-needed reforms.

That deadline has come and gone and some Iraqis say Abdul Mahdi hasn’t done enough.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Matheson reports from Baghdad:

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has restructured the Supreme Anti-Corruption Council founded by his predecessor Haider al-Abadi in October 2015.

Abdul Mahdi said Jan. 9 that he would make every effort to allow the council to play a successful role. On Dec. 31, he said he wanted to re-establish the council in order to “take deterrent measures, unite the regulators’ efforts, address corruption and protect public funds.”

The council’s re-establishment comes after last year’s issuance of a report by Transparency International that ranked Iraq ranked 169th out of 180 countries in terms of corruption.

Click here to read the full story.

By Dr. Layth Mahdi.

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

The Challenges Facing the New Government: The End of Iraq or Its Revival

The liberation of Iraq has given the country freedom; however this democracy has transformed into chaos with the spread of corruption, militias, tribes and outlaws. The root of the looming crisis is the inability of the GOI to successfully implement initiatives to address the dire situation in Iraq.

Iraq suffers from an economic crises after 2003, the most important of which is the decline of non oil GDP, primarily in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

The manufacturing sector GDP fell from 14% to 1%. The majority of factories in Iraq are not operating due to the lack of resources, maintenance, or expertise. The Ministry of Industry has 192 major factories including poultry, dairy, cement, glass & steel not operating. The private sector has 40,000 factories, 95% of which are not operational. Prior to 2003 the government would provide subsidized utilities and limit imports to promote domestic production.

The agricultural GDP dropped from 12% to 2% as the programs and policies in place were unable to effectively revive the agricultural farms. This was due to the GOI eliminating the previously subsidized programs and implemented a free market over night. Which led to the farmers abandoning their lands and migrating to the cities seeking employment. Iraq is now faced with a reluctance of their population returning back to the farmlands outside of the cities.

According to official statistics of the Ministry of Planning for 2018 and some other sources, the population of Iraq is 38 million people, and the proportion of youth reached 28% (10.5 million) making up 36% of the workforce (6.7 million). In addition, the percentage of poverty in the areas liberated from ISIS reached 40%, 30% in the south, 23% in the center and 12% in the Kurdistan region. More than 12 million people live below the poverty line ($ 3 / day). The percentage of poor children in the south has exceeded 50% and the illiteracy rate has spread to a large extent and reached 25%, especially in the poor and remote areas.

The Ministry of Planning and the World Bank announced the Poverty Reduction Strategy Project (2018-2022) with the aim to drop the poverty rate 25% by 2022. I believe this is very ambitious and unattainable with the current leadership and government, as the population of Iraq (38 m) will increase by one million annually. The state should provide over 250 thousand jobs annually to alleviate the poverty rate, and this is not possible because the private and public sector is disabled. The poverty rate will instead increase annually.

Previous National Development Programs of 2010-2014 and 2013-2017 have failed to alleviate the poverty rate because of the lack of vision and inefficiency of directors involved in the projects.

Job creation and poverty reduction are linked to several Ministries and other Government Institutions. These Ministries are influenced by different parties are not cooperating with each other, so the proposed poverty reduction project will fail.

The Prime Minister Dr. Adil Abd Al Mahdi, faces major challenges to improve the economy, create jobs and reduce poverty before it is too late. He should establish a centralized office that will lead all Ministries together to achieve the project goals.

Iraq must also cooperate and include the American expertise in line with the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement between the USA and Iraq.

I presented a proposal and solution personally to the Prime Minster in December 2018, however without success. I still believe that this is the only right path to the success of the Prime Minister’s tasks. He has no other choice.

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (pictured) has called for an investigation into the appointment of a deputy director general to the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA), citing allegation that the appointment was made under threat.

In a statement the Prime Minister said.

His Excellency Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi ordered to conduct an investigation on information indicating the issuance of an administrative order by the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority to appoint a person in the position of Deputy Director General of the Authority under threat and intimidation, to consider the administrative procedure related to the position of the Deputy of the Chairman of the Authority frozen and inoperable, and the previous contexts shall continue to work until the completion of the investigation and the confirmation.

“His Excellency called for taking the necessary measures and imposing the most severe penalties on anyone who uses the threat or uses his powers to compel citizens or state institutions to carry out actions contrary to law and order.

(Source: Media Office of the Prime Minister)

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Will Iraq’s prime minister fail to complete his Cabinet?

For the second time in less than two months, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has left the Iraqi parliament building without a complete Cabinet. There were hopes that he would complete the Cabinet in the first or second session, but he wasn’t able to see it through.

Three months after President Barham Salih tasked him with forming the government, he still has not been able to convince the political blocs with his remaining candidates for five ministries: justice, education, interior, defense and migration.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

The Iraqi government has said it intends to extend pension rights and other benefits to public sector employees on short term and daily contracts.

At a cabinet meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday, Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi told the Cabinet that the government intends to introduce measures to give public sector employees on short-term and daily contracts the same pension rights and other benefits currently enjoyed by their colleagues on permanent contacts.

(Source: Government of Iraq)

Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has reportedly named his final eight ministers, completing his cabinet after weeks of delay.

According to information received by Rudaw, the appointments are as follows:Dara Nuradin – Ministry of Justice

  • Falih Fayadh – Ministry of Interior
  • Faysal Jarba – Ministry of Defense
  • Qusay Abdulwahab Suheil – Ministry of Higher Education
  • Saba Khayradin Tani – Ministry of Education
  • Abdulamir Hamdani – Ministry of Culture
  • Nouri Natiq Dlemi – Ministry of Planning
  • Hanna Immanuel Gorgis – Ministry of Immigrants and Immigration
  • Dara Nuradin, who took the justice brief, is an independent Kurdish politician.

(Source: Rudaw)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s National Investment Commission (NIC) has identified five main issues hindering investment in Iraq:

  1. Not applying the One Stop Shop (OSS) law as it should be applied and denying the OSS representatives the required authorities to decision making;
  2. Difficulties in allocating lands and being subject to interpretation and wishes of various bodies;
  3. Problems with lack of funding and the banking system;
  4. Political quotas and interference in the provincial councils; and,
  5. The spread of administrative corruption.

The full statement from the NIC can be read below:

The National Investment Commission holds an elaborated meeting in the presence of the Secretary General of  the Ministers Council 

The National Investment Commission (NIC) held on Tuesday 27/11/2018 an expanded workshop devoted to discussing the investment map of Iraq for 2019 in the presence of the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Dr. Mahdi Alallaq, the head of the Secretariat of the Coordinating Committee in the Provinces Mr. Turhan Al Mufti and Chairmen of a number of Provincial Investment Commissions in addition to representatives of a number of Ministries and concerned state institutions.

NIC Chairman emphasized in his speech that this workshop comes to complete the first meeting, which included representatives of investment activity in various ministries and departments to discuss the investment map for 2019 in response to the invitation of the Prime Minister Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi to discuss the reality of investment situation in Iraq and develop effective solutions for issues facing investment projects in all governorates across the country. .

He also determined five main issues that participated in hindering investment in Iraq, three of them are related to investment law. The first, is not applying the One Stop Shop (OSS) law as it should be applied and denying the OSS representatives the required authorities to decision making. The second, is difficulties in allocating lands and being subject to interpretation and wishes of various bodies. Funding and banking systems represent the third issue for not supporting economic projects.

Two other big problems deviated the investment path and its law, Political quotas and interference in the provincial councils and the negative impact on investment work, as well as the spread of some administrative corruption.

NIC Chairman called for the importance of developing realistic and feasible plans for the next phase due to the possibility of world oil prices fluctuation, which forces those who practice economic activities in the country to work in accordance with the system of diversified and non-monolithic economy and bridging the widening gap between the parties involved in this activity on one hand and owners of capital, companies and businessmen on the other hand. This reflects a lack of accurate understanding to the spirit of the articles of the investment law.

Dr. Mahdi Al-Alallaq, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers reviewed a number of issues that are challenging the investment process in Iraq, including the increasing unemployment rates and total dependence on the government sector instead of the private sector represented in large inflation in the number of workers in the form of contracts and daily wages in the various government departments. Fixing them in permanent jobs as governmental employees became a real entitlement to them but represents a major embarrassment to the budget.

All this is due to weak legislations that encourages working for the private sector such as social security and financial stability that enhance the workers feeling being equal to any governmental employee. Also, many relevant state departments are very conservatives regarding allocated lands for investment which in time created a huge obstacle to go on with investment projects.

He called to promote the investment opportunities already presented in Al Kuwait International Conference for Rebuilding Iraq last February and earned a big international interest.  He also assured the Council of Minsters’ support for those opportunities being the ideal solution for the Iraqi economy in this phase.

the head of the Secretariat of the Coordinating Commission for the Provinces, Mr. Turhan Al Mufti, asked the heads of the Provinces Investment Commissions to suggest the required mechanisms to deal with the investment departments in the ministries and other state institutions and thus contribute to bringing the views closer between the two parties, stressing that the third meeting will be between the concerned parties in investment in ministries and to accelerate adopting the necessary decisions to achieve the expected qualitative boom in the investment sector in Iraq in 2019

NIC Chairmen listened to a number of proposals and opinions from the heads of the provinces investment commissions, during which a number of things were covered, including the need to facilitate the bureaucratic procedures that the project goes through and the number of entities that inspect it and blackmailing investors and delays which makes many investors leave the country.  They also called for reducing external interventions in projects and reactivate the Department of Investors’ Protection.

(Source: NIC)