On her blog, Baghdad Observer, Leila Fadel writes today:
Every day I pass by the same buildings destroyed during the U.S. led invasion in my neighborhood in Baghdad. Every day they look exactly the same, a pile of rubble. The electricity problem seems to be getting worse; Iraqis have an average of about four hours of electricity a day. While there is talk of reconstruction, a bridge here, flowers planted there the people don’t feel a change.
She then links the situation to a report today from the General Accounting Office on Iraq oil profits (pdf version here), suggesting that money is pouring into Iraq but not making it to whatever level it takes to provide basic essentials.
Here are some factoids I’ve pulled from the report: Iraq can’t spend its money. It has spent only 80 percent of its budget. Of the $67 billion spent by the Iraqi government between ’05 and ’07, only 1 percent went to maintain “Iraq- and U.S.-funded investments such as buildings, water and electricity installations and weapons.” U.S. taxpayers spent about $23.2 billion on security, oil, electricity, and water sectors. Iraq spent only about $3.9 billion on these sectors, even though it had budgeted $28 billion. Iraq has $29.4 billion in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. It has a budget surplus of $38.2 billion to $50.3 billion. A barrel of Iraqi oil fetches about $96.88, far below the average worldwide. But the oil is considered to be of lower quality. With the price of oil rising, Iraq will earn twice the average annual amount it generated from 2005 though 2007. Iraq could spend more but it lacks the expertise to budget.
About the blogger
Bob Collins has been with Minnesota Public Radio since 1992, emigrating to Minnesota from Massachusetts where he was vice president of programming for Berkshire Broadcasting Company. Previously, he was an editor at the RKO Radio network in New York, and WHDH Radio in Boston. He is the founder of the MPR News’ website.