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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

26 January 2005

Iraqi Political Parties Set Forth Economic Proposals

Party platforms address infrastructure, agriculture, industry, debt

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – With more than 38 percent of potential Iraqi voters citing high unemployment as one of the top three issues that the new government needs to confront, Iraqi political parties know that they must address economic issues in order to win votes.

“Democracy cannot be separated from economic and social issues, for there can be no true democracy without true development, the Gathering of Independent Democrats states in its party platform.

The challenge for them and other parties vying for support in Iraq’s January 30 elections is to explain how they plan to bring about greater development and economic opportunities.

For decades, the mainstay of Iraq’s economy has been the oil sector.  The Communist Party asserts that Iraq needs to diversify the bases of its economy in order to reduce its dependence on oil revenues, but none of the parties denies that oil is a key resource that must be used effectively.

The Liberal Democratic Party states that “Iraq’s wealth belongs to the people and should be distributed in the form of development projects throughout the whole country.  Accordingly, a specific sum should be devoted to each region according to the number of inhabitants.

A poll of nearly 2,000 eligible voters from across Iraq found more than 25 percent of voters cite public-works projects as one of the economic proposals that would attract their support for a particular party.

This voter sentiment is not lost on the political parties.  The Turkoman Nationalist Movement says, “It is incumbent on the state to take a serious look at projects including irrigation, agriculture, transportation, water and electricity.

The Liberal Democratic Party provides further detail of its plans, saying that it intends to build new irrigation projects, new roads, new railroads, new commercial airports and new port facilities.  It also calls for upgrades in the communications networks, including new telephone lines, cellular phone systems and Internet capabilities.

Many of the parties frame their public-works proposals in terms of revitalizing Iraq’s agricultural sector.

The United Iraqi Alliance, for instance, proclaims the need to “develop and build the Iraqi countryside by providing public services such as safe drinking water, electricity, fuel, communications, postal service, transportation, health clinics and schools, and installing a network of improved roads to link the countryside to the city.

But infrastructure development is not the only proposal offered in support of the agricultural sector.  The Liberal Democratic Party advocates land reclamation projects.  It would distribute the newly reclaimed agricultural lands to small farmers for cultivation.

The party also proposes the creation of agricultural banks that would provide interest-free loans to farmers in order to support crop and animal production.

The Communist Party aims to support the agricultural sector by providing greater structure to the industry.  It proposes “to protect agricultural workers by regulating the cooperative system and encouraging democratic agricultural cooperation in production, distribution and marketing.

The bottom line for nearly all the parties that address the agricultural sector is the country’s achievement of self-sufficiency in food production.

Several parties also speak of the need to rebuild Iraq’s industrial sector.  The Liberal Democratic Party promises to rebuild Iraq’s heavy industry and pursue agreements with international companies to establish branches and manufacturing facilities in Iraq.  The party also says that Iraq needs to develop its petroleum-refining capacity and build up its petrochemical industry in order to reduce crude oil exports and increase exports of higher-value products.

Most of the parties pledge to support the growth of the private sector.  The Iraqi National Accord wants to allow the private sector to participate in all areas of economic activity, with the free market as a driving force.

The Communist Party, however, asserts that the public sector should be the primary foundation of Iraq’s economy and that it should be rebuilt as an efficient and profitable economic force.  The Communists also advocate “systemic regulations upon the workings of the market and various areas of economic life in order to protect the people’s rights.

The Iraqi National Accord observes that the discourse on economic policies is hobbled by a lack of reliable data.  It therefore proposes to establish institutions to gather, process and publish data and economic indicators in order to enhance the discussions on economic, monetary and tax policies.

In terms of Iraq’s economic relations with other countries, several of the parties state their intention to work toward achieving a complete cancellation of Iraq’s foreign debt and the elimination of war reparations resulting from Saddam Hussein’s military campaigns.

The Liberal Democratic Party also hopes to seek accession to the World Trade Organization.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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