Reconstruction winds down

20 March 2008

The latest quarterly report from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) says that of the US$ 21 billion appropriated by the Bush Administration to the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF), more than 98% has been committed, and more than 84% has been spent.

The report says most scheduled projects are now complete, while those still outstanding should be finished by the end of this year. It also said certain sectors are delivering better than others.

Educational facilities remain largely on course, as do most of the country's major transportation projects. Of the 810 schools earmarked for construction or rehabilitation only one remains to be completed.

Nearly 96 of the 98 road projects are now finished, while 237 of the 285 road and bridge projects are complete. However, 39 road and bridges are still under construction and nine have yet to start.

The provision of adequate health care continues to pose problems, said the report, with only 15 of the 141 primary health-care centres have been completed, with 126 on-going. Just over half the 30 hospitals earmarked for construction have been completed so far.

Adequate power supplies are also a continuing problem. Less than half the 56 power plants that were originally planned have been finished while almost 25% of the planned distribution network remains incomplete.

While water supplies remain erratic 883 of the 1001 clean-water projects are now finished with 55 of the 67 sewer projects also complete.

Progress has been hampered by the continuing security concerns, said the report. Corruption is also a problem, with the Iraq Commission on Public Integrity estimating that US$ 5 billion is lost annually to corruption, said the report.

Efforts to stamp out corruption, particularly within the Iraq government are being hampered, said the report, by the reinstatement of a 1971 law by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that says no case can be referred to an investigative court that involves a minister or former minister without the Prime Minister's consent. It is estimated that 48 cases have been dismissed in this way.

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