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Iraq improving, but still needs aid: ambassador

by Archives September 23, 2008

Western countries must step up efforts to develop Iraq’s civil society and economy, said Iraq’s ambassador to Canada, Howar Ziad.
Speaking last week to a group of businesspeople and academics, Ziad warned that Iraq’s economic recovery was being hampered by the cost of servicing debts incurred by the previous regime, and called on governments to forgive those debts.
“Some of our creditors, such as the United States, France, Russia, Unites Arab Emirates and Japan have been immensely generous. Others are lagging . . . Iraq’s position is that we should not be obligated to repay obligations incurred under the odious Baathist dictatorship, which denied basic rights to citizens, including any say over government policy.”
In 2005, as part of its obligations as a member of the “Paris Club” of creditors, Canada signed a bilateral agreement with Iraq to forgive as much as 80 per cent of the country’s debt. This reducing Iraqi debt held by this country’s government from $570 to $120 million.
Despite the country’s difficulties, Ziad maintained that Iraq was still making great strides in overcoming the handicaps left by the previous Ba’athist regime.
“According to the IMF, Iraq’s economy is predicted to grow by more than seven per cent this year . . . Rising oil prices have boosted our internal reserves to over $40 billion in international reserves, and our budget for next year is estimated to be $80 billion. We are now paying for most of our reconstruction and security costs.”
The speech, held Thursday, was part of the Fraser Institute’s “

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