Economy

Donors pledge $30 billion for Iraq reconstruction

By Khalid al-Taie and AFP

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The Iraq reconstruction conference, hosted by Kuwait, concluded Wednesday (February 14th) with $30 billion in pledges. [Photo courtesy of Iraqi Prime Minister's Information Office Facebook page]

Kuwait on Wednesday (February 14th) announced that an international conference for the reconstruction of Iraq it was hosting has raised $30 billion.

"The commitment of the international community at the conference was clear," said Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled Al-Sabah.

In total, he said, 76 countries, numerous international funds and global organisations had made pledges.

Iraq had said it needed nearly $90 billion to rebuild in the aftermath of its three-year war against the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), which destroyed homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure and displaced millions of people.

"We were hoping for more," Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told AFP. "We are not disappointed, but the amount was less than expected."

Iraq has said its 10-year reconstruction plan will cost $88.2 billion, of which $22 billion was required immediately.

Pledges to support Iraq

Among the top contributors were Britain and Turkey.

Britain said it would grant Iraq export credit of up to $1 billion per year for a decade, while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country would provide $5 billion in loans and investment, without specifying the breakdown.

The Gulf states, led by Kuwait, pledged $5 billion in investment, loans and financing for exports.

The support shown by the international community during the conference is a "reward" that Iraq has earned for its victories over terrorism, Muzhir Mohammed Saleh, an economic adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, told Diyaruna.

"We went to the conference with a comprehensive vision based on well-considered, transparent plans," he said.

If these plans are put into practice, "they will create a qualitative shift and turn our country into a large workshop for work and production", he added.

Saleh expressed optimism that donor countries will carry out their commitments and pledges to help Iraq.

Seventy Iraqi, regional and international organisations on Monday pledged to carry out humanitarian programmes worth $330 million in war-affected areas, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pledging $130 million.

"The funds will be directed to relieving hundreds of thousands of displaced and affected people and to quickly meeting their needs in the areas of shelter, health and education," Saleh said.

Efforts to spur investment

Iraqi officials encouraged international companies to invest in Iraq by stressing the government's efforts to build an attractive investment environment there.

"We have put forward a promising investment plan consisting of dozens of projects, including more than 50 projects ready for immediate investment," Saleh said, noting that investors have been offered legal and security protection for their projects.

The Iraqi government has established a Supreme Council for Investment and Reconstruction to handle the various projects for reconstruction and for "combating corruption and economic terrorism", he said.

Iraq also has offered investment opportunities in the housing, education, health and transportation sectors, among others, he said, stressing the importance of investment for the revival and reconstruction of cities destroyed by terrorism.

"Investment is a key pillar of our 10-year plan for the rebuilding of our cities," he said.

Representatives of international companies attending the donor conference also expressed their desire to invest in Iraq.

The International Finance Corporation said it has about $1.2 billion in investments in various projects in Iraq and is preparing to announce a $250 million investment in a telecommunications project.

An agreement also has been signed between the Iraqi Finance Ministry and the US Export and Import Bank to open a $3 billion credit line to help rebuild Iraq.

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