News / Middle East

Some Iraqis Profit from Economic Progress; Most Suffer

Some Iraqis Profit from Economic Progress; Most Suffer i
X
March 22, 2013 8:13 PM
Ten years after the war that toppled Iraq's President Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi economy is booming, according to statistics - but most Iraqis say they have not benefited from the economic up-turn.
Scott BobbSebastian Meyer
Ten years after the war that toppled Iraq's President Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi economy is booming, according to statistics - but most Iraqis say they have not benefited from the economic up-turn.

Baghdad's Stock Exchange opened one year after the fall of Saddam Hussein as a private non-profit organization - replacing the government-owned Iraq Stock Exchange.

Director Taha Ahmed al-Rubaye said there are 125 private and mixed-ownership (public and private) companies in Iraq. But based on the size of the economy, there should be five to 10 times that many. The government still dominates the economy and hinders reform.

“It's written in the constitution that Iraq must be transferred into a capital market country...with a market economy, or something like that, in the future," said al-Rubaye. "You cannot do that, make the private sector work  side to side with the government sector, unless you create companies.”

Iraq's economy is growing at nine percent a year. And petroleum production now is nearly three million barrels a day, making Iraq the third-largest oil exporter in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Russia.

New stores stocked with expensive goods would indicate a boom in consumer spending.

But the picture is different for most Iraqis who still struggle to survive. Shopper Intissar Fadl said food prices are too high.

“It was a million times better during the days of Saddam,” said a Baghdad shopper.

Clothes vendor Lateef Saleh said political instability is hurting his livelihood. He said, “When there is an explosion the customers don't come because they are afraid, even when there are a lot of security forces around.”

Many Iraqis complain that the government has failed to rebuild roads and utilities like electricity and clean water plants.  

A U.S. official who investigated fraud in the American reconstruction program here, Stuart Bowen, said the main reason is corruption.

“The Iraqis really need to crack down on corruption, and that means modernizing their government systems of accountability," said Bowen. "Right now their budget process is very rudimentary, and that prevents good insight into how the billions and billions of dollars of their budget is spent.”

Bowen said $8 billion of the $60 billion U.S. reconstruction program was diverted. And a senior Iraqi anti-fraud official said $800 million every week is being transferred illegally (laundered) to foreign bank accounts through fraudulent contracts.

As a result experts say Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs