Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Baghdad city council discusses paying money to residents instead of the to be cancelled food rations"

This headline appeared on Al-Mashriq paper this morning, the report within says that the government's decision to stop distributing food rations is reaching the final steps of discussions and it will be adopted sometime next year.

The report attributes the decision to a deal between the government and the world bank and international trading organization; the deal is to provide Iraq with loans and grants up to 40 billion $ over a certain number of years for the purpose of reconstruction and development as well as giving Iraq a membership in the world trading organization. In return for that, Iraq has to fulfill a few requirements, one of which is to stop subsidizing whatever is being subsidized right now; food rations, electricity, fuel, phones…etc.

The lack of transparency on the government's part had given rise to suspicions about the reality of the shortages in fuel and the delay or complete absence of several items of the food rations and some people here think that these shortages and delays are actually a method invented by the government to prepare the people for the withdrawal of subsidization.

I am personally supportive of adopting free market policies in Iraq as that's an essential contributing factor for development and I also believe that stopping subsidizing fuel can put an end to the smuggling operations and their devastating effect on the economy since smuggling is only happening as a result of the huge difference in fuel prices between Iraq and the neighboring countries but why this lack of transparency?
All we heard from officials about this subject was foggy hints and evasive answers and this is wrong, especially when it comes to things in direct touch with people's daily life.

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