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Lawmaker expects ‘dangerous future’ as Iraqi debts exceed $100 billion

Mahdi Al-Hafez image

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq’s foreign and national debts have grown to over $100 billion in 2017 largely to “insufficient government reforms for the economic sector,” according to the parliament’s Economy and Investment Commission, which called for “immediate action.”

Lawmaker Mehdi al-Hafidh, who is a member of the commission, told reporters Monday the bulk of the debts are made of international loans, nearly $60 billion, with “relatively high interest rates,” which could push Iraq towards “a dangerous future,” he added.

“Either financial reforms begin immediately or we need to be prepared for very unpredictable economic conditions in the coming years,” al-Hadith said.

Iraq’s government has applied for an international loan of $5 billion this year in order to balance the 2017 budget that is predicted to have an estimated 11 percent deficit, largely due to low prices of crude oil in global markets.

Iraq’s budget in 2015 shrank to $105 billion from $118 billion in 2013 as global prices of oil dropped to a record low. The country drafted no budget in 2014 due to lingering disputes with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the start of a chaotic ISIS war.
The 2015 budget was based on oil prices $56 a barrel of crude, but since the price hovered far below that price, Baghdad used its international reserve cash to offset the widening deficit.

The deficit continued to hit the annual budget in 2016 as oil prices landed below $40, shrinking the budget to $88 billion with a $15 billion deficit.

Oil is the main source of revenue in Iraq, constituting up to $90 percent of the country’s income.

Iraq’s 2017 approved budget is nearly 100 trillion dinars (around $85 billion) while the expected state revenues are estimated to be around 90 trillion dinars (around $72 billion).

Source: Rudaw, 22/2/2017


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