Iraq’s Planning Ministry said that its strategic anti-poverty campaign announced in January 2011 would include the creation of four million public sector jobs over the next four years. A spokesman for the ministry said that this would be achieved through service projects aimed at jobs for the young. This comes on top of other reports that parliament wants to offer 285,000 new positions in the security forces and ministries this year as well, to fight unemployment. Both point to the continued domination of the economy by the government.
Baghdad claims that unemployment is at 15% and poverty at 30%. The jobless rate comes from 2008. An economic adviser to the government said in September 2010 that it was around 25-27%, while the United Nations has said that poverty is at 22.9%. Underemployment is also estimated at 33%, while many of those involved in farming that are counted as working do not receive wages. No matter what the actual figures are, they all point to a country that has a lot of people struggling to make ends meet.
The Planning Ministry didn’t say where the money will come from for these four million projected jobs, but it is probably funds from oil, which accounts for nearly 90% of government revenue. The government already provides 60% of full time work, and salaries and pensions eat up over 70% of the budget. With oil production expected to increase with the help of international companies, Baghdad is expected to plow some of this money into development projects. It also needs to diversify the economy so that it is not so dependent upon the fluctuations of the petroleum market. Unfortunately, despite the talk of promoting free markets, and new industries, it appears that the authorities are still looking towards the public sector to solve many of the problems facing the country. Iraq may continue to be a neo-socialist economy that becomes even more reliant upon petroleum than ever before as a result.
Dazzayi, Saman, “Iraq’s Planning Ministry promises 4 million jobs in 4 years,” AK News, 2/1/11
Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq June 2010,” 9/7/10
The Iraqi Dinar, “The Iraqi government for the first time reveals: Unemployment in Iraq, 27 percent and foreign debt 126 billion dollars?” 9/13/10
Jawayi, Falih, "Iraq to recruit 285,000 people in 2011," AK News, 2/4/11
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 1/30/11
- “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/10