Researcher Shatha Khalil *
Since 2003, the Iraqi economy is going through its worst state of confusion and loss of planning and technology and waste of wealth one after the other, and the last effects of the state and its strength and political and military and economic weight in the Arab region and the world were dissipated , as one of the most important practical measurement of the post-occupation era.
According to experts and specialists , the economic aspect is the most important practical measurement for that period (2003 – 2019), which has become a dilemma for the state for more than a decade and a half, where the views are conflicting on the its form, classification and type, the occupation was not just a change on the political map , according to specialists, but it turned the economy of Iraq upside down, and changed its content, becoming an anonymous identity, having been the status of a conservative semi-socialist economy.
According to the Transparency International Index, Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world over the past years. There are always international reports of embezzlement and waste of public funds, and Iraq ranked (169) out of (180) countries in the index perceptions of corruption.
Corruption has been a major reason that successive governments have failed to achieve positive results in the provision of basic public services such as electricity, drinking water, health, etc., which is infuriating the population.
According to the latest report of the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, international, foreign and local organizations have contributed to the provision of jobs for more than 30,000 Iraqi unemployed since the beginning of this year.
Most of these actions are concentrated in the cities liberated from the control of the terrorist organization ISIS in the north, west and center of the country. It shows that these actions were temporary and lasted for two or three months as a maximum, but the unemployed got good amounts that contributed to solving their problems temporarily. This means that the problem remains.
Iraqis reap the sow of occupation:
In the latest statistics of Human Rights Watch for the past 14 years, it has shown the following:
-The unemployment rate in Iraq has reached more than (31%) distributed among the provinces of Iraq, and Anbar came at the top of the Iraqi provinces, followed by Muthanna, Diyala, Babylon, Baghdad, Karbala and Nineveh.
– Some (3.400) million displaced people distributed to (64) countries.
-Some (4.100) million displaced inside Iraq.
– Around 1.700 million people live in different camps.
– About (5.600) million orphans aged (month-17 years).
– 2 million widows aged (15-52) years.
– About (6) million Iraqis are not able to read and write “Basra, Baghdad, Najaf, Wasit and Anbar in the forefront.”
– The unemployment rate exceeded (31%) “Anbar, Muthanna, Diyala and Babylon in the lead, followed by Baghdad, Karbala and Nineveh.”
-35% of Iraqis below the poverty line are less than $ 5.
– Almost (6%) the rate of taking hashish and narcotics abuse “Baghdad is in the lead followed by Basra, Najaf, Diyala, Babylon and Wasit”.
-The employment rate of children under 15 years of age exceeds (9%).
-The spread of (39) diseases and epidemic, most notably cholera, polio, viral liver and high incidence of cancer and birth defects.
-Stopped (13328) factories, and production institutions.
-The area of cultivated lands decreased from (48) million dunums to (12) million dunums.
-Import (75%) of foodstuffs and (91%) of other items.
-Basic education at its worst ”(14658) schools (9000) of which damaged and (8000) mud and the need for (11000) new schools.”
-Oil sales for the period (2003-2016) about (1000) billion dollars did not contribute to solve any of the problems of Iraqis.
Poverty strikes the body of the Iraqi citizen:
Despite the large increase in Iraq’s oil exports, and its high financial revenues, it did not contribute to solving the worsening crises of the Iraqi citizen, nor to improve its economic situation or economic development and to rotate the economy in the right direction.
According to the Ministry of Planning, the official index to measure the rate of poverty adopted locally, and in the World Bank, is much more than (22.5%), because the index does not adopt a careful survey according to the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, ie, about a quarter of Iraqis are poor.
The World Bank has warned of the fragility of the economic situation in Iraq for 2018, after the poverty line has exceeded (22%), pointing out that it has statistics confirming the existence of further deterioration, in light of a remarkable rise in the unemployment rate to double in the provinces affected by the violence of the organization ISIS ”north and west of the country.
The Iraqi Ministry of Labor, said that more than one million families living below the poverty line, required to draw plans and policies to address this problem, and this comes despite a significant increase in oil revenues, where Iraq achieved more than (7) billion dollars in oil sales for the month of June ,according to the Ministry of Oil.
Here we should not forget that Iraq is one of the largest Arab countries producing oil, and Iraq is able to raise production in the coming years to (7.5) million barrels per day, and the volume of proven oil reserves about (112) billion barrels, and occupies the largest reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia .
In December 2018, the Iraqi Ministry of Planning conducted a survey to measure levels of expenditure to address poverty, which showed that food spending was 32%, followed by fuel and housing (24%).
The economics professor at the University of Baghdad, Ali al-Rawi pointed out , that most of the poor families are located in areas liberated from the control of the “ Daesh ” in northern and western Iraq, and that these families returned to find their homes and areas destroyed by the war, and the increase oil revenues or the large size of the budget did not benefit them
When this painful statistic is carefully scrutinized, no mind can grasp it, because the numbers are terrifying, in terms of the devastated man on the one hand, and in terms of looted funds and the amount of devastation and destruction that plague Iraq on the other.
High debt to Iraq to about 125 billion dollars
According to the International Monetary Fund, foreign debt amounted to $ 85.3 billion, and includes the receivables of foreign companies operating in the energy sector and the purchase of electricity and gas from Iran, while the internal debt is $ 40 billion, mostly to the Central Bank and three government banks: Rafidain, Rashid and Iraqi for Trade, and the National Retirement Authority .
The Iraqi economy is suffering today from major challenges in the high volume of the debt, as the allocation of $ 15 billion to pay the dues and benefits of debt during 2019, as a result of increased borrowing during the past ten years.
Specialists attribute it to the widespread financial and administrative corruption in the country, and the money goes into the pockets of parties to finance their activities instead of sustainable development.
Although Iraq ‘s vast and diverse wealth ensures an advanced level among the nations of the world, but the corruption and mismanagement of governments during and after the occupation have brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy and sinking into economic crises and debt.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies