A lump sum of $15 million is being extracted from the Iraqi government’s emergency budget for crisis containment solutions — specifically regarding the out of control protests and widespread chaos currently engulfing southern Iraq. Iraq’s Council of Ministers, chaired by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, determined that $2.5 million should be earmarked for the port city of Basra’s operational expenses, and the freshwater projects in Muthana and Umm Qasr. Another $7.5 million will be for the construction of 52 public schools in Basra over the next three months.
The council not only utilized the emergency fund but also “decided to assess and hold accountable those responsible for poor performance and service delivery in ministries.” Perhaps this is a statement meant for the Ministry of Electricity given their terrible performance track record and the rolling blackouts that plague Iraq. In the last two weeks, nationwide protests have drawn attention to the constant power outages, rising unemployment, and poor infrastructure.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office released a statement claiming that,
The Council also decided to form the provincial reconstruction and services committees, chaired by the prime minister, to assess provincial reconstruction and services and to follow up on citizens’ needs and demands to improve services, accelerate service delivery, and empower the council of ministers to ensure speedy implementation of mentioned duties.”
Prime Minister Abadi spoke at a press conference later, saying that the current situation has pushed the government into action. He stated that,
We won’t go easy on any official proven to be negligent in their duties. Negligence in many cases is the same as corruption. Corruption is not necessarily extending your hands into public funds. If you don’t carry out your responsibility correctly, this is part of corruption. The biggest corruption we are faced with is mismanagement. The biggest corruption is wasting the state’s resources, not necessarily stealing them.”
Featured image: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Monday, March 20, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. | Official White House photo by Benjamin Applebaum, via Wikimedia Commons