Iraqi government refuses, neglects facilities in reconstruction
American reconstruction projects in Iraq are ending up in the hands of untrained locals or demanding even more money from American taxpayers than originally ventured, reports the New York Times in its Saturday, July 28 edition.
A report, released Friday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, details how only 435 projects out of a total of 2,797, at a cost of $5.8 billion, were accepted by the Iraqi government, resulting in many projects being effectively abandoned or inoperative despite the United States declaring them "successfully completed".
Stuart W. Bowen Jr., of the Inspector General's office, blames Iraqi-installed finance minister Bayan Jabr for the failure of the transfer process, whose installation by the Iraqi government he says caused the process to "cease to function."
In one of the most recent cases, a $90 million project to overhaul two giant turbines at the Dora power plant in Baghdad failed after completion because employees at the plant did not know how to operate the turbines properly and the wrong fuel was used. The additional power is critically needed in Baghdad, where residents often have only a few hours of electricity a day.
Because the Iraqi government will not formally accept projects like the refurbished turbines, the United States is “finding someone at the local level to handle the project, handing them the keys and saying, ‘Operate and maintain it,’ ” another official in the inspector general’s office said.
American researchers who have followed the reconstruction said Mr. Bowen’s report raised serious new doubts about the program. Rick Barton, co-director of the postconflict reconstruction project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research institute in Washington, said the lack of interest on the part of the Iraqis was the latest demonstration that they were not involved enough in its planning stages. “It sort of confirms that you really need pre-agreement on the projects you are attempting,” Mr. Barton said, “or you end up with these kinds of problems at the tail end, where people don’t know much about the program and they haven’t bought into it.”
The entire New York Times article can be read HERE.