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10/08/2004

Reconstruction Problems

Yesterday Kevin Drum linked to this nice little CSIS infographic [pdf], which was seemingly put out to remind the world (including debate viewers) about this report [pdf] on problems facing the reconstruction effort in Iraq.

Either CSIS is more powerful than I thought, or their timing was really good. The AP put out a story on some of the problems last night:

''The security situation here in Iraq has made it much more difficult than we anticipated than I think anyone had anticipated to get the reconstruction work done,'' Bill Taylor, director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, told reporters at the Pentagon in a video teleconference from Baghdad.
Security costs were estimated at 30% of total expenses, but are running as high as 50%. Reuters adds that the US is reevaluating high overhead projects:

U.S. officials are looking at the viability of high-overhead work to determine if these projects are worth continuing.

"In those (high cost) areas we are focusing our attention to make sure we are investing our money wisely and not just in security costs but that we are investing in projects that truly make a difference," Hess told reporters at the Pentagon via a teleconference from Baghdad.

Meanwhile, AFP reports that Iraqis lack sewers and drinking water, and don't have the money to fix the problems:
Iraq only has 10 percent of the money needed over the next six years to fix its sewerage and drinking water systems, a dilemma worsened by a US proposal to shift two billion dollars earmarked for the sector to security, the public works minister said on Thursday.
Unfortunately the Iraqi public works minister may be understating the problem. According to UPI, Negroponte may be taking $3 billion, not $2 billion, for security, and some undisclosed other amount for "oil exporting."

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte is moving $3 billion previously scheduled for reconstruction work into boosting security in Iraq.

"Our problem is that we have $18.4 billion. We don't have more money. What we have is a different set of priorities. So in order to provide additional funds for the police and the National Guard and the army, we had to reduce funds for other areas. And the two areas that we took funds from are water and electricity," Hess said.

Negroponte plans to add money to oil exporting in an effort to boost the funding stream coming into the Iraqi government.

This is the situation Sen. Lugar attributed to administration "incompetence." You know, things like putting Heritage Foundation interns in charge of rebuilding a country. Or using Iraqi oil money instead of US money because there's less accountability. Or using companies with clear conflicts of interest for oversight. Iraqis are getting pennies on the dollar.

 

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