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Iraq rebuilding under threat as US runs out of money

Key rebuilding projects in Iraq are grinding to a halt because American money is running out and security has diverted funds intended for electricity, water and sanitation, according to US officials.

Plans to overhaul the country's infrastructure have been downsized, postponed or abandoned because the $24bn (£13bn) budget approved by Congress has been dwarfed by the scale of the task.

"We have scaled back our projects in many areas," James Jeffrey, a senior state department adviser on Iraq, told a congressional committee in Washington, in remarks quoted by the Los Angeles Times. "We do not have the money."

Water and sanitation have been particularly badly hit. According to a report published this week by Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of Congress, $2.6bn has been spent on water projects, half the original budget, after the rest was diverted to security and other uses.

The report said "attacks, threats and intimidation against project contractors and subcontractors" were to blame. A quarter of the $200m-worth of completed US-funded water projects handed over to the Iraqi authorities no longer worked properly because of "looting, unreliable electricity or inadequate Iraqi staff and supplies", the report found.

So, Krugman was right on when he called this the `can't-do'-government. If Iraq is an example of there competence, or better incompetence, I really fear for the Katrina survivors. What they forgot to mention is the money detoured to Halliburton et al.
And I really `liked' the following:

He said non-US sources might be asked to plug the gap.

by Fran on Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 01:36:01 AM EST
Fran: What they forgot to mention is the money detoured to Halliburton et al.

And a lot of other things. Such as:

  • Painting schools was a propaganda operation - new paint was the last thing Iraqi schools needed, Iraq was no Afghanistan.

  • The 'reconstruction' of the power generating sector was paralysed by US insistence to install US technology, rather than just buy Russian, German, French spare parts for power plants with Russian, German, French technology, technology the local engineers knew, unlike the US one.

  • Generally, 'reconstruction' was handed to foreigners, Iraqi companies were left without work. Especially, in line with the free-marked fundamentalism Bremer let loose, state companies.

  • And that 'reconstruction' was mostly priced to the liking of Western companies, costing up to 20 times what it would have costed if Iraqis had done it.

  • Actual work done was shoddy to criminally negligent, given the lack of oversight - or worse. For example, it was reported that in Baghdad schools, not only did the new paint peel off after a few months, but the contractors took away the UNICEF-donated Japanese air conditioner and replaced it with a defect Syrian-made one.

  • The total lack of care for Iraqis' health is well illustrated by the fact that Bremer let DU-shelled tanks be sold to scrap metal dealers in Baghdad, without telling them of the poisonous contamination.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 05:09:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't forget, I just thought it would be a never-ending list, though your resumé is great - couldn't have done any better.
by Fran on Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 05:13:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspected you didn't forget; it's just that there is this view many people (especially Americans) get from the media that Halliburton et al wasted a lot of money, but did so while doing real work of real value - and feel like I have to counter-advise readers on that every time the issue comes up:-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 09:19:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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