By Dr. Abbas Kadhim, for the Atlantic Council.

Nearly One Hundred Days In, How is Iraq’s New Government Performing?

Spending the last two weeks of 2018 in Iraq offered a window into Iraqi politics, the economy, and how Iraqis are coping on a variety of issues.

My trip began with a conference, and despite the socially and politically contentious issues under discussion—citizenship, identity, inclusive governance, human development, education, among others—and the diverse ethno-sectarian background of the participants, there was a consensus on the most fundamental issue: that Iraqis must build their own nation together and focus on the future, rather than dwell on the injurious past.

The full article can be viewed here.

(Source: Atlantic Council)

By John Lee.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that Moscow is very interested in increasing trade, economic and investment ties with Iraq.

Following a meeting on Wednesday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, he said:

In the field of investment, especially in the hydrocarbon sector, there is a very good result. Lukoil, Gazprom Neft, SoyuzNefteGaz are already working, Rosneft is interested in projects in Iraq. The total investment in this industry has already exceeded $ 10 billion.

“We want to promote projects in other areas. Today we talked about electricity, agriculture, industry, transport – all this will be considered in the context of preparations for the next meeting of the Russian-Iraqi Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

He added that about 4 thousand Iraqi citizens are currently studying in universities of the Russian Federation, while dozens of diplomats from Iraq take part in special training courses at the Diplomatic Academy at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

(Source: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

By John Lee.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that Moscow is very interested in increasing trade, economic and investment ties with Iraq.

Following a meeting on Wednesday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, he said:

In the field of investment, especially in the hydrocarbon sector, there is a very good result. Lukoil, Gazprom Neft, SoyuzNefteGaz are already working, Rosneft is interested in projects in Iraq. The total investment in this industry has already exceeded $ 10 billion.

“We want to promote projects in other areas. Today we talked about electricity, agriculture, industry, transport – all this will be considered in the context of preparations for the next meeting of the Russian-Iraqi Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

He added that about 4 thousand Iraqi citizens are currently studying in universities of the Russian Federation, while dozens of diplomats from Iraq take part in special training courses at the Diplomatic Academy at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

(Source: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

UK Export Finance (UKEF) has announced it will support UK firms with US $1.02 billion to build two new power stations in Iraq and support the restoration of a number of electricity substations in the country.

  • US $1.02 billion in support for UK firms to build two new power stations
  • Agreement will help build and refurbish numerous electricity substations across Iraq
  • Announcement reaffirms the UK’s commitment to Iraq’s continued economic development

US $620 million financing will go to support two contracts between GE and Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity to build two power stations in Samawa and Dhi Qar, located northwest of Basra, in southern Iraq.

UKEF had already provided initial support for the project; this additional financing supports the main construction phase of the project involving further procurement from UK suppliers through GE sub-contractor ENKA UK.

UKEF will also provide US $400 million to support a project by GE’s Grid Solutions, business to develop 14 sub-stations across Iraq. GE will build new substations on a turnkey basis and supply equipment such as transformers and other parts to rehabilitate existing substations, helping to bring power to areas with significant power shortages from the north to the south of the country.

This announcement follows the agreement between the governments of the UK and Iraq signed in March 2017, which re-affirmed the UK’s commitment to Iraq’s continued economic development.

This project will play a key role in bolstering the capacity of the Iraqi electricity grid, the two new power stations, located in the Basra region, will give citizens the access they need to critical infrastructure.

Baroness Fairhead (pictured), Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, said:

The scale of these contracts illustrates the demand for British expertise in the utilities sector and the level of support the government can give to British businesses looking to make the most of similar opportunities across the globe.

“The UK Government continues to be committed to Iraq’s economic development and I am delighted that UK Export Finance is supporting projects that will have such a direct impact on improving the country’s critical infrastructure and the lives of the Iraqi people.

Guto Davies, GE Energy Financial Services’ Global Capital Advisory Managing Director, said:

“The announcement of these new facilities further strengthens GE’s collaborations in Iraq to support the country’s power infrastructure and meet the growing need for electricity. GE recognises the importance of UKEF in supporting critical infrastructure projects in Iraq and the UK supply-chain. We are delighted they continue to fund major projects in the country’s power energy sector.”

Yavuz Akturk, Director at ENKA UK, said:

Power shortages continue to halt Iraq’s reconstruction and addressing this scarcity is crucial to the country’s future. As ENKA, we have taken a significant role in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, and with these projects we will help the people in the country which are in urgent need for electricity.

“It would not be possible without the continuous support of the UK Government and the highly dedicated UKEF team; and we as ENKA, are grateful for the high-level support for these projects which will also provide great opportunities for the UK exporters.”

(Source: UK Govt)

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 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Conflict erupts over properties surrounding Samarra shrine

Property owners around the Holy Shrine of Askarian Imams in Samarra, Iraq, are being pressured to sell their land below market value, according to Salahuddin Provincial Council Chairman Ahmad al-Krayem.

In a Dec. 29 meeting with property owners, Krayem accused the shrine administration of blocking the areas surrounding the shrine and preventing landowners from investing in their properties in order to pressure them into selling at cheap prices. He said the administration, citing security concerns, is using checkpoints to limit access to the area.

Krayem considers the authorities’ actions an effort to systematically displace the people of the surrounding areas. The people, however, are fighting back, he said.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Alzanjani)

The allocation of two million dinars for each of the citizens of Isidiyah
1/27/2019

The Minister of Displacement and Migration Nawfal Baha Moussa announced on Sunday the allocation of two million Iraqi dinars (about 1600 US dollars) to each of the Azzid Najia of the organization "Daash."

The ministry said in a press statement that the minister Moussa "During his visit to the district of Talqiv in Nineveh province, he stressed that the Yazidat suffered a tragedy and that the ministry will stand with them."

The statement added, quoting the minister, "Each Yezidi Najia amount of two million dinars will be distributed to them, and this was allocated in the budget of 2019."

http://www.non14.net/108445/

Parliament The budget law guarantees 37 new paragraphs and parliamentary finance awaiting the appeal of the government
1/27/2019

Baghdad / Mohammed Sabah
The Parliamentary Finance Committee talks about its concerns about the government filing an appeal before the Federal Court on some paragraphs of the Budget Law 2019, which was drawn by the members of the Council during the vote, indicating that the deputies added about 37 articles on the law during the vote.

In a related context, deputies point out that the number of contractors of the Ministry of Electricity who will be installed on the permanent owners up to (35) thousand contractors, and the Ministry of the Ministry of the approximate number of about (15) thousand records with an allocation of 120 thousand dinars to the lecturer Which did not include in these appointments per month.

"The powers of the House of Representatives to make amendments to the law of the general budget are limited and do not exceed the reduction of expenses, and the conduct of transfers at the gates of public exchange," he said, adding that his committee "did not exceed Limits of these powers in the preparation of the final wording of the federal budget law approved by Parliament. "

At the dawn of last Thursday, the House of Representatives was able to pass the federal budget law for 2019, which amounted to about 106 trillion dinars (88.5 billion dollars), while estimated expenditures 133 trillion dinars (111.5 billion dollars), a total deficit amounted to (27.5) trillion dinars ($ 23 billion).

The Finance Committee in the House of Representatives began more than a week ago to prepare and write the final versions of the draft federal budget law for 2019 after the completion of the file of the extension of all ministries and government institutions and independent bodies.

The number of observations made by the members of the House of Representatives on the law of the general budget to the parliamentary financial committee before the vote to about 300 observations relating to the total allocations for the development of the regions and funds allocated for the reconstruction of western cities and the budgets of the provinces of Basra and Babel and Wasit and oil exports from the Kurdistan region.

The federal budget for the current year was devoid of the allocation of job grades. However, it authorized the Council of Ministers to introduce job grades for the confirmation of daily contracts and workers according to the precedence and actual need of that department or institution for the contractor.

"The issue of contracts and daily workers is a big issue because it belongs to large and comprehensive sectors in the Iraqi government," explains the head of the parliamentary finance committee, noting that the number of contractors and day laborers is much higher than that allocated in the budget law.

"He pointed out that" the House of Representatives limited authority, and is not to add functional grades in the draft budget law, "stressing that the Committee" committed to the items and paragraphs and articles of the budget law sent by the government to the House of Representatives. "

The previous government had sent the bill to the House of Representatives, but the latter rejected the law in principle after the reservation of many of the mass on a number of paragraphs, while demanding the government to make radical amendments to the budget materials.

The Chairman of the Finance Committee MP Saffar, saying that "texts related to the installation of contracts and change the daily workers to the contractors are the proposals sent by the government within the draft budget law, as well as a large number of members of the House of Representatives to submit proposals like the Financial Committee," pointing out that "a vote The House of Representatives on these proposals will force the government to develop a certain plan to stabilize the owners of contracts.

"The government has focused on the proposals voted by the House of Representatives to install the contracts of sectors that I described as necessary, such as electricity and oil and turn them into permanent owners," he said, adding that "the contract holders of other sectors of government is bound The government, not the parliament or the finance committee. "

The Council of Ministers has decided to equalize the contract holders with the employees and cover them with the privileges and rights obtained by the employee in the state such as loans, housing, allowances and retirement, as well as giving them priority in appointing permanent owners according to need and specialization and calculating their services for the purposes of premium, promotion and retirement.

"However, the parliament is unable to add new paragraphs and articles in the federal budget law because it has financial implications on the government that we filed before the Federal Court."

And reveals that "the House of Representatives added about 37 articles on the budget law during the course of the session of parliament, which ended at dawn last Thursday," pointing out that "the parliamentary finance committee was not happy to add new paragraphs on the law of the general budget."

The MP from the Kurdistan Democratic Party bloc that "the draft budget law has become a component after these additions and proposals made by a group of deputies of nearly eighty articles," stressing that "some of these materials transfers, and another section with financial consequences may be a pretext for the government to challenge Before the Federal Court. "

The draft federal budget law of 2019, which was sent by the Council of Ministers to the House of Representatives on October 24, 2018 of (52).

"The government agreed with the Parliamentary Finance Committee during the review of the law not to exceed the ceiling of spending to avoid the increase in the amount of disbursement specified in the draft law," he said, expecting "the government to appeal before the Federal Court on some of the materials added in the voting session."

The Kurdish MP to the position of his commission of these additions, which was made without review, saying that "the parliamentary finance was embarrassing from the additions of the House of Representatives on the law of the budget proposed by the members of the Council," stressing that "its final position is in the service of the Iraqi citizen.

" Al-Saffar pointed out that "the parliamentary finance after the completion of the revision of the draft budget law did not add material financial implications for the government, but only to conduct transfers in the exchange sections through the overstatement of the expenses of some ministries."

"The size of this transfer did not exceed (4) trillion dinars. Our goal was to create jobs for different sectors and ministries in the Iraqi state, "adding that his committee" carried out transfers by the central bank budgets as well as from the ministries of electricity, oil, interior and defense. "

The deputy of the province of Dohuk that "the text of the draft budget law by the Parliamentary Finance Committee authorizes the government to install contracts and workers daily aims to create social justice among the members of the community," explaining that "the confirmation of owners of contracts and workers daily by the government will be based on precedence and service and need The government agency in which the contractor operates ".

He pointed out that "the installation of contracts in all sectors and ministries is up to the government, which will resort to issuing instructions to implement its previous decisions to resolve the problems of contract holders and day laborers."

In a related context, the MP talks about the circumstances of the adoption of the Federal Budget Law 2019 in the House of Representatives, which he described as "extraordinary" saying that his committee "worked for 38 consecutive days during which it met a number of ministers and officials and ended by voting on the law."

He explained that "the first review found the draft budget law prepared by the previous government devoid of the terms and paragraphs of the ministerial platform introduced by the new government," noting that "the parliament and the government participated in the preparation of the budget law again."

However, the head of age, "the federal budget law for the year 2019 is not the level of ambition to address all the problems and repercussions suffered by the Iraqi citizen," while saying that the lack of time and exceptional circumstances in which the government and parliament caused this wording.

On the other hand, says a member of the Finance Committee Majid al-Waeli that "the decision to install the owners of contracts and workers a day a government decision already approved the General Budget Law, which included the installation of contracts of the Ministry of Electricity and lecturers in the Ministry of Taxation."

"The number of contractors of the Ministry of Electricity who will be installed on the permanent staff reaches 35 thousand," Al-Waili said in a statement to Al-Mada.

"The ministry’s statistics are about 15 thousand, with an allocation of 120 thousand Dinars to the lecturer who did not include in these appointments monthly. "

He continued that "the owners of contracts in the ministries and various departments will enjoy the same privileges granted to the employee with a precedence in the appointments based on the decision of the Council of Ministers."

He pointed out that "the House of Representatives added to this article on the confirmation of contracts formula or phrase obliges the government to install electricity contracts and lecturers in the Ministry of Education on the permanent owners," stressing that "the budget was compressed in terms of funds and degrees of employment and revenue is limited can not increase."

He points out that "any addition with financial consequences may make the budget law vulnerable to challenge by the federal government," stressing that "the federal budget law provided for the installation of owners of electricity contracts and lecturers."

The MP discusses the reform alliance to talk about the articles that have been added to the law of the general budget, saying that "there are materials added by his committee and others were presented as proposals by the members of the House of Representatives," stressing that "among these materials conversion certificates in the Ministries of Defense and Interior To civil ministries ".

The MP did not rule out the province of Najaf, "the possibility of stabbing the government some of the articles of the General Budget Law, which was added in the voting session," stressing that "new materials that were added required the President of the House of Representatives to achieve the financial abundance to implement."

In regard to the articles that fell by voting within the House of Representatives MP Majid al-Waeli that "the House of Representatives dropped the article that gives the Ministry of Taxation commissioned the Nahrain printing press books exclusively and processing directorates books and school supplies," noting that "After dropping this article will be printing books for all Iraqi printing presses After lifting the privacy and dropping it from the Nahrain Press. "

He continued that "the rejection of article (14) of the budget law, which was granting the Iraqi state departments to expand investment in the private sector on the lack of guarantees to implement correctly," pointing out that "the aim of the refusal is to push the private sector towards the adoption of the investment law."

Article (14), which was dropped in the budget law to grant ministries and entities not linked to the Ministry and the provinces to expand the opening of private investment and participation with the private sector within the limits of competence.

https://www.sotaliraq.com/2019/01/27…2%D8%B1%D8%A9/

parliament speaker announces the end of the first legislative term of the House of Representative
1/26/2019

Baghdad / … Speaker of the House
of Representatives Mohamed Halbusi, on Saturday, the end of the first legislative term for the first legislative year of the fourth parliamentary session.


"This is the end of the first legislative term for the first legislative year of the fourth parliamentary session," Halboussi said in a statement received by Iraq News.


He called on "Members of the House of Representatives to continue to exercise their oversight role through their presence in the offices of the Council of Representatives in the provinces, and communicate with citizens directly, and to identify their needs."

http://aynaliraqnews.com/index.php?aa=news&id22=112834

The Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) on Reconciliation and Politics, which was established in October 2018 with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), was officially inaugurated on Thursday in Baghdad.

The Group is expected to lobby for the advancement of women’s role in politics and making their voices heard. Women continue to be underrepresented and remain excluded from political and decision-making processes in Iraq despite their active role in society.

The Group comprises 22 members who have been selected in their individual capacities for their skills and experience. They include human rights defenders, media experts, former politicians and civil society activists, and represent a variety of interests, political backgrounds and regions.

In her remarks, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert urged the Government to recognise that broad societal representation in shaping the future of Iraq is necessary to ensure sustainable peace, security and prosperity for all of Iraq’s citizens.

“At present, the inclusion of women and their direct participation in senior decision-making positions remains very limited. We are yet to see women being elected to some of the leading positions; for example, Governors or Chairs of Provincial Councils and let’s not forget a male-dominated Cabinet,” stressed SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert.

She urged Iraq’s senior political leadership, including the government, parliamentary committees, civil society partners and other stakeholders to join UNAMI in drawing on the expertise of the Women’s Advisory Group.

She further called on men interested in becoming male champions in the fight for gender equality to work closely with UNAMI and the Women’s Advisory Group to design the necessary frameworks for women’s inclusion in decision-making structures.

Speaking on behalf of the Women’s Advisory Group, Bushra Alubaidi, a lawyer and human rights activists, highlighted that “participation of women in reconciliation and decision-making in state institutions remains limited in Iraq, despite the fact that the country has adopted national and international frameworks empowering women and ensuring women’s meaningful role in society and the state. The current Council of Ministers is constituted of men only, and it is a rare practice that governmental entities would consult women’s groups on policy decisions and frameworks,” said Ms. Alubaidi.

Participants included the Second Deputy Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Mr. Bashir Haddad, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Reconciliation, Mohammed Salman, the Director-General of the Women’s Empowerment Directorate at the Council of Ministers, Dr. Ibtisam Aziz, the head of the Sunni Endowment, Dr. Abdulateef Al-Humeim, Parliamentarians and Members of Provincial Councils, government officials, members of the Judiciary, members of the diplomatic community, as well as civil society activists and academics.

(Source: Reliefweb)