Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oil accounts for 86% of Iraqi govt revenues

"The revival and rehabilitation of Iraqi oil production has been one of the main planks of U.S. policy since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The slowness of the recovery reflects both the post-invasion chaos in the country and the lack of investment and inconsistent policies during the Saddam era. The drawdown of U.S. forces and smaller local expenditures have affected Baghdad's budget, forcing a decision on foreign investment in the energy sector, which accounts for 75 percent of GDP and a staggering 86 percent of government revenues. One of the consequences of the provincial elections earlier this year was to move the political debate forward -- successful candidates tended to be less sectarian and more aware of local issues. Prime Minister al-Maliki needs to use this momentum to push through the new oil policy.

Nationally, the development of Iraq's oil touches on the vexing issues of Saddam's preferential treatment of the western Sunni Arab provinces at the expense of the southern Shiite provinces and the northern Kurdish areas. This tension is exacerbated by the location of the oil, mainly in the south and north rather than the west, and a Shiite and Kurdish desire to be compensated for past injustices."

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