Bush's Jobs Program for Iraq

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush's Jobs Program for Iraq

Tonight, the president, we are told, will urge support for a U.S.-funded jobs program in Iraq. From today's N.Y. Times:
[Bush's] plan would involve pumping expertise and money for reconstruction into enterprises still owned by the Iraqi government, or privatizing some or all of the companies to force them to become more competitive.

Either way, Iraqi political and business leaders were dubious about the prospects for success. “I doubt it very much in view of the current challenges and dangers facing the country,” said Mehdi Hafedh, a member of Parliament and a former planning minister.

The state-owned enterprises are already a huge drain on Iraq’s budget, Mr. Hafedh said, and most of them produce little or nothing. Many are filled with no-show jobs.

“The Americans should have made some consultations because this is ridiculous, frankly,” Mr. Hafedh said. “What Iraq needs to do is reduce the number of employees in the state sector.”

... while the (state-owned) companies may appear alluring in reducing unemployment and sparking the economy, businessmen here said they are far from a solution.

Many of those employees actually do nothing but collect monthly paychecks and go home, says Mahmoud Othman, an Iraqi businessman who favors increasing support for the companies and privatizing some.

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