From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
After months of anti-government protests and political uncertainty, Iraq is now grappling with its worst fiscal crisis in decades.
The country’s economy and state budget are heavily reliant on oil income, and have been hit hard by the sharp decline in global oil prices.
The World Bank has projected Iraq’s GDP to contract by 9.7 percent, with the fiscal deficit expected to reach almost 30 percent of GDP. Iraq’s newly appointed government, led by Mustafa al-Kadhimi, is now faced with a challenging task of implementing long-overdue structural reforms, such as reducing public sector employment while also keeping popular unrest at bay.
But what are the root causes of the current economic crisis and what needs to be done to tackle it? And how can the new government overcome entrenched political interests that oppose reform while also winning over a public that has lost all trust in the political establishment?
Ramzi Neman, the World Bank’s special representative to Iraq, talks to Al Jazeera:
On April 20, 2020, IRIS held a webinar entitled Iraq’s Economy: Spotlight on Oil and Gas.
The discussion focused on Iraq’s economy amidst falling oil prices and additional pressures from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speakers included IRIS Senior Fellow and AFC Iraq Fund Chief Investment Officer Ahmed Tabaqchali, Iraq Correspondent for Associated Press (AP) Samya Kullab, and MENA Programme Manager at the International Energy Agency (IEA) Ali Al-Saffar.
The discussion was moderated by IRIS Director Mac Skelton:
Iraqi-American NASA Astronaut, Jessica Meir, has sent an empowering message of support to kids on the Hope Buses in Baghdad, all the way from the International Space Station!
In light of the current global crisis, this message reminds us that our family is so important and also bigger than we think; it’s a time where we really need to come together to support each other from all corners of the earth, and beyond!
In her message, Astronaut Meir encourages Iraqi kids by saying “reach for your dreams and believe that they can come true“; this message is extra special as one of our recent Hope Bus students has big dreams of becoming an Astronaut!