Economy

Ramadi sees uptick in economic activity

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad

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Ramadi markets are swarming with shoppers as economic activity is on the rise after most displaced residents have returned to the city. [Alaa Hussain/Diyaruna]

Ramadi has seen an upsurge in commercial activity as small businesses have re-opened their doors amid calls to major investors and banks to pump more money into the city to speed up the economic recovery.

The battle for Anbar's provincial capital saw much of the city liberated from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in December 2015. Since then, life is gradually returning to Ramadi and thousands of displaced residents are making their way back home.

Most markets and shopping malls have opened their doors again, Ramadi mayor Ibrahim al-Awsaj told Diyaruna.

The economy is slowly recovering as more and more people are returning to the city, he said, adding that trade in construction materials, food and consumer goods has seen the most significant improvement.

Easing the transfer of goods

"Major economic activity is still lagging, not only in Anbar but also in all Iraqi provinces because of the financial crisis gripping the country," he said.

However, the expected re-opening of border crossings that link Anbar to Syria and Jordan , will provide another boost to the local economy and create new jobs for about 70% of the unemployed, he added.

Al-Awsaj called on the Iraqi government to urge its banks, including the Iraqi Industrial Bank and the Agricultural Bank, to launch soft loans for residents which would provide them with financial liquidity.

He also urged for the re-opening of the international highway linking Baghdad to Ramadi to facilitate the transfer of goods, "instead of using alternate roads through Karbala province and Nakheeb district".

"Economic activity is on the rise in Ramadi markets despite the small increase in the prices of goods because of the difficulty of transferring them from Baghdad," assistant governor of Anbar Ali Farhan, who chairs the higher committee to restore stability to the province, told Diyaruna.

"The coming days will witness more improvement in the economy if the banks in the province are re-opened and salaries are distributed," he said.

Anbar's local government has plans to attract foreign investment to participate in the reconstruction of the city, he said, stressing that this would offset the deficit in the federal budget and the lack of government allocations.

Security entices traders to return

Enhanced security in the streets and markets is an incentive for shoppers and investors alike, Anbar police's emergency regiment commander Brig. Gen. Khalid Jaijer told Diyaruna.

"All markets and commercial complexes in the province are fully secured, and citizens are freely shopping" without fear for their safety, he said.

The security situation is back to what it was before ISIL took over the city, he added.

Jaijer called on traders and big investors to return to the city and participate in its reconstruction.

He said the recent victories of the Iraqi army in Ramadi Island and Heet Island and its advances towards the upper Euphrates River are all "reassuring signs for residents and traders alike who no longer have to fear the presence of pockets of terrorists in nearby areas that could threaten their investments".

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