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Cablegate: Iier Holds Conference On Transparency and Economic Laws

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #2675 2781545
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADBEA7C1 MSI8321-695)
R 051545Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4952
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 002675

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
STATE FOR NEA/I/ECON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAID KCOR IZ
SUBJECT: IIER HOLDS CONFERENCE ON TRANSPARENCY AND ECONOMIC LAWS

REF: Baghdad 2346

1. (U) SUMMARY. The Iraqi Institute for Economic Reform (IIER) held
a successful conference entitled "The Absence of Economic
Legislation and Transparency in Iraq" October 3. The conference was
financed under a $1.5 million USG-Targeted Development Grant (TDG).
About 70 people attended, including Embassy Anti-Corruption
Coordinator Ambassador Joseph Stafford, members of the Council of
Representatives (COR), the Acting Minister of Trade, and several
CEOs of Iraqi companies. As evidenced by this event, IIER's
Baghdad-based office now has the capacity to work more independently
from its London-based exile leadership. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) The discussion at IIER's October 3 conference on transparency
and economic laws was lively. Anti-Corruption Coordinator
Ambassador Joseph Stafford noted the progress the GOI has made in
fighting corruption and reiterated the USG commitment to assist.
Acting Minister of Trade Dr. Safaa al-Safee said the COR should
question Ministers more about their Ministries' expenditures and
hold them accountable for any corrupt activities. A few members of
the COR said the budget process should be more closely related to
strategic plans of the various Ministries and suggested that the
budget document include more information about individual line
items. They also said the Board of Supreme Audits' reports should
be taken more seriously and that punitive action should be imposed
against corrupt officials. Other GOI officials criticized Iraq's
water management and suggested ways to improve public access to
information on key government programs, either through media or
websites.


3. (U) A few Iraqi businessmen said better transparency would
improve Iraq's investment climate. Iraqi Energy Think Tank Director
Luaye Khatib said that if better laws existed to protect investors,
the private sector could do a better job of diversifying the Iraqi
economy away from oil. Basam Antoine, Board Member of the Iraq
Federation of Industries, said government officials need to be more
in touch with the daily lives of ordinary Iraqis and should publish
a strategic budget that everyone could understand. He said the
Ministers in general are not qualified for their positions, and
should use their advisors more to help make the best decisions. He
suggested that some Ministries merge to streamline the GOI, e.g.,
the Oil and Electricity Ministries should become an Energy Ministry.
The private sector representatives also discussed the lack of
effectiveness of the Integrity Commission and how politics
interferes with their performance.

COMMENT


4. (SBU) This successful conference is an example of how our $1.5
million TDG support to IIER is paying off. Last year, the
Baghdad-based IIER office would likely have been unable to organize
a high-level event without substantial guidance from the
London-based trustees. IIER's Baghdad-based Administrator and
full-time Secretariat organized this conference with little
oversight from London, and clearly have the capacity to stimulate
discussion between the public and private sectors. After several
more USG funded-conferences in the coming year, IIER should have
regained its status as the premier Iraqi NGO fostering and
influencing national economic policy debates.

HILL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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