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Cablegate: Chalabi's Provision of Services Committee - February 19

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TAGS: EAID PREL IZ REL UK
SUBJECT: Chalabi's Provision of Services Committee - February 19


1. SUMMARY: The February 19th meeting for the Provision of Services
Committee heard concerns, including fiscal, from the Baghdad
Sheraton Hotel and the Babil Hotel. The Baghdad General Manager for
the Ministry of Transportation was there to discuss bus shortages
and transportation costs. For the second week in a row, the
committee discussed power station security and importing fuel at
international prices. Along those same lines, the Energy Fusion Cell
presented a basic briefing to the committee. Finally, the committee
reviewed several previous recommendations. END SUMMARY.

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Meeting Highlights
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2. Resulting from the hotel briefs, Dr. Chalabi will seek low
interest loans through the Raffadin Bank to address hotel repairs.
The committee will also send a letter to the Ministry of Interior
(MoI) asking them to remove their security from the Babil Hotel
which currently inhabits an entire floor, rent free. The hotel
representatives complained of high utility rates and limited
availability. The Ministry of Electricity (MoE) said they would not
be responsible for interdictions, but would repair or maintain any
electricity lines downed for other reasons. Dr. Chalabi offered to
resolve this issue in a private session with the hotels.

3. Chalabi reviewed the I-ESC decision to create a battalion, under
the direction of the Baghdad Operations Command (BOC), to protect
threatened power stations. The committee will write a letter to the
BOC granting access to power stations for the purpose of protecting
them. The Deputy Minister of Electricity (DMoE) detailed a recent
threat to staff in Taji, noting that power has since been restored.
Dr. Chalabi suggested the local sheiks be engaged to minimize future
threats. The committee will write a letter to the local Awakening
Council and MoI, providing a report on the threat. (Note: A police
report was made locally. End Note)

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Open for Business - Not Exactly
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4. Representatives from the Baghdad Sheraton Hotel and the Babil
Hotel attended the Services Committee for the first time. Both
relayed similar concerns; hotels in disrepair, labor shortages,
inadequate funds to pay employee wages, guest shortages, security
and unreliable electric and water services. The hotel managers
requested a five year tax exemption and reduced utility rates. Dr.
Chalabi did not address either suggestion, but did note that low
interest loans may stimulate the hotel and tourism industry. Dr.
Chalabi will write a letter to the PM to encourage the Raffadin Bank
to offer such promotional loans. The Chairman also said that any
state-owned hotels should be sold off to the private sector and that
international firms should be welcome to take over management of the
hotels. (Note: According to the committee, there are 49 state owned
hotels and 51 privately held hotels. End Note)

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Getting Around Baghdad, Getting Around Iraq
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5. According to the General Manager (GM) of Transportation for the
Ministry of Transportation, over one-third (1/3) of the ministry's
bus fleet has been stolen since the start of the war. (Note: The GM
said that the buses were stolen and taken to neighboring countries;
however, we have heard reports that the buses were stolen by former
drivers and are still in Iraq. End Note) Despite a smaller fleet,
the staffing levels have remained steady at approximately 6,000
people. Explaining this, the GM says that he is "required to take on
employees who were fired from other ministries, but have "political
connections". The GM particularly noted that college students are
squeezed in this transportation shortage and have difficulty
affording taxis to get to and from classes. The GM claims that 250
buses are needed immediately to meet student needs. Dr Chalabi told
the GM to write a memo to the committee explaining how much students
pay for transportation, what the costs of the additional buses will
be and what benefits the buses will bring.

- - - - - - -
Other Issues
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6. In addition to sharing the I-ESC development, Dr. Chalabi also
noted that the Russafa and Karkh commands are studying which
electrical control stations need to be protected.

7. Dr. Chalabi questioned the Deputy Minister of Health about the
previous recommendation to pay doctors overtime. According to the
DM, the money has still not gone through. (Note: The committee
passed this resolution October 25. End Note) Dr. Chalabi will again
raise this issue with the PM.

8. The Ministry of Oil (MoO) delivered a written report on threats
and attacks at gas stations which he states are overwhelmed by
militias. The DM noted the ministries reticence to sell fuel to

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these stations. Dr. Chalabi suggested auctioning the fuel, but the
DM of Oil retorted that the gas stations should be sold to the
private sector and not be state owned. Also regarding oil, Dr.
Chalabi intends to send a letter to all ministries to inform and
encourage them to import their own fuel at the international market
price rather than through SOMO.

9. The BOC handed out a list of approved street openings throughout
Baghdad. (Note: At last week's meeting, the Amanat distributed a
list of streets that they wanted re-opened due to improved security.
The BOC was to review the list for this week's meeting. End Note)
The BOC also reported that the checkpoint of concern in Abu Ghraib
was handed over to the Abu Ghraib police. (Note: Abu Ghraib
representatives attended the 11/27 meeting and requested a
checkpoint be moved. The BOC said the checkpoint could not be moved
or eliminated. As a compromise they handed it over to the local
police. End Note)

10. The Energy Fusion Cell presented an overview of their mission
and operations. This included a shift from past efforts primarily on
coordination for security of infrastructure and repairs to one of
supporting an Iraq National Energy Policy. They are working with the
Ministries of Oil and Electricity to understand the mutually
supportive relationships.


Crocker

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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