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Getting Iraqis Back to Work is Top Priority, says Bremer - 2003-06-09


The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has held an "economic consultative council" meeting with business and economic leaders in Iraq.

Getting Iraqis back to work is a top priority, according to Mr. Bremer, who met in Baghdad with a group of about 30 Iraqi business leaders and economic experts to discuss how to get Iraq's fledgling economy moving. He said creating jobs is the answer.

"Creating jobs now is our number one priority," he said. "We need to get the economy turned over. We had some good suggestions today from some of our colleagues here."

Key to creating jobs, according to Mr. Bremer, will be to induce foreign investment and guarantee the security of those investments.

Mr. Bremer said the effort to revive the economy has been made more difficult because many of Iraq's economic ministries were destroyed during looting following the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Bremer said he believed the construction industry would play a key role in increasing Iraqi employment.

He said the central point everyone at the meeting agreed on was that, if the Iraqi economy is to grow, it will be on the back of a vibrant private sector.

Mr. Bremer said consultations must continue and that the road to economic recovery in Iraq would take great patience and determination.