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UN’s Ban urges support for plan to “normalize” Iraq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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UNITED NATIONS, (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for international support on Friday for a five-year Iraq reconstruction plan that he described as a tool to unlock the potential of the Middle Eastern nation.

Ban and Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi unveiled the International Compact with Iraq, which would see Iraq given international support — financial, political and technical — in return for political, security and economic reforms.

The compact, which was discussed by more than 80 countries, outlines targets for Iraq to hit during the next five years, including annual economic goals. It also includes a list of legislation the government hopes to pass by the end of 2007. “The compact should be seen as a tool for unlocking Iraq’s own potential,” Ban told the compact meeting. “The challenges ahead are immense. I am sure you will all agree that we cannot leave Iraq on its own to cope with them.” “It is heart-wrenching to see almost daily attacks on innocent civilians, which has left immense suffering and pain,” he said. “Beyond the political violence and sectarian strife, a humanitarian crisis is stretching the patience and ability of ordinary people to cope with everyday life.”

Ban said that was why the compact, which he described as a “framework for normalization,” was much needed by Iraq, which is besieged by sectarian violence that has made rich countries, aside from the United States, reluctant to support.

The compact sees Iraq pledge, among other things, to build up its security forces, establish the rule of law throughout the country’s institutions, uphold and protect human rights, tackle corruption and reform oil and agriculture industries.

It shows that Iraq hopes to achieve economic growth of 15.4 percent in 2007, up from 3 percent last year. Growth of 12.9 percent is forecast for 2008 and 2009, 9.8 percent for 2010 and 5.3 percent for 2011.

The compact sets a crude oil output target of 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2011, which would nearly double Iraq’s annual crude export revenue to almost $50 billion. It also aims for production of 700,000 bpd of refined products by 2011.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, oil production has been stuck at about 2 million bpd, with exports of 1.5 million bpd. That compares with pre-war output of just under 3 million bpd and exports of around 2 million bpd. “This framework will enable Iraq to establish an economic foundation built upon good governance, the rule of law, a solid budgetary structure and strong, credible institutions,” Robert Kimmitt, the U.S. deputy Treasury secretary who attended the conference, wrote in The Washington Post on Friday.

Decades of economic mismanagement as well as U.N. sanctions under former President Saddam Hussein have bloated inefficient state-owned industries and created a web of government subsidies for food and gasoline which western advisers say hinders growth and fosters corruption.

Reforming state-run industries would inevitably mean throwing thousands of employees out of work and adding to the misery of ordinary Iraqis, while the benefits of reform may take years to appear.