Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has warned that the country's treasury is nearly empty as a result of low oil prices and the coronavirus lockdowns, and has called on the country's political parties for support.
SULAIMANI — Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has warned candidly that Iraq is facing extraordinarily difficult economic circumstances and sought support from the country’s parties for his agenda.
“After seventeen years, we are in a situation that cannot be envied,” Kadhimi wrote in the article, which was published in Baghdad Today on Tuesday (May 19) and entitled “Iraq is greater than the challenges.”
“The money that had been put in the country’s treasury was enough to rebuild the country from its foundation, but corruption destroyed it and some of it was transferred outside the country,” he added before revealing dramatically that, on assuming power, he found Iraq’s coffers “nearly empty.”
“Unemployment can no longer be contained, [rising] to levels not reached in any previous circumstance, especially among graduates,” he said, adding that investment and oil export mechanisms are in need of serious reform.
He also warned that this perilous economic period could affect sectors previously believed to be secure.
“The dangerous decline in the country’s income with falling oil prices has made it necessary for the government to find a quick source of income in order to distribute the salaries of public sector employees,” he wrote.
Since the beginning of the year, oil prices have dropped precipitously because of falling demand caused by the coronavirus shutdowns and massive oversupply in the global market. Iraq depends on oil exports for more than 90 percent of its income.
Kahdimi called on the parties in the Council of Representatives to unite behind his agenda, complete his cabinet, and finish work on the electoral reform law.
He also called on them to respond to the “just demands” of the protesters, whose actions forced his predecessor from office.
“No serious step can be taken the dignity is restored to the state,” he wrote.