The American invasion of Iraq has provided eight years not only to free the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein but also from a state-run economy that depends entirely on oil revenues. However, when the U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq at the end of this year, they will leave behind a nation whose economy suffers from a widespread corruption, bureaucratic impediments and shortage of electric power.
Oil revenues continue to represent 95% of the government’s budget while the economic focus since the fall of Saddam has been on raising oil production. Illegal gains and bureaucracy are the two main challenges for freeing the economy even for a simple matter such as obtaining a visa by a foreign businessman.
The demand for bribes at all levels for starting a new business has forced entrepreneurs either to withdraw or to operate outside the legal framework. A recent survey shows that 55% of the 900 small-business establishments are not registered and pay no taxes.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, October 20, 2011