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America Puts Iraq Up For Sale
Independent (UK) ^ | 9-22-2003 | Philip Thornton/Andrew Gumbel

Posted on 09/21/2003 2:45:03 PM PDT by blam

America puts Iraq up for sale

By Philip Thornton in Dubai and Andrew Gumbel
22 September 2003

Iraq was in effect put up for sale yesterday when the US-backed administration announced it was opening up all sectors of its economy to foreign investors in a desperate attempt to deliver the much-needed reconstruction.

In an unexpected move unveiled at the meeting of the Group of Seven rich nations in the Middle East, the Iraqi Governing Council, appointed by the US occupiers, announced sweeping reforms to allow total foreign ownership without the need for prior approval.

The move, accompanied by swingeing cuts in taxes and tariffs, is likely to fuel concerns that Iraq is being turned into a golden opportunity for profiteering by multinational corporations relying on political connections. Already, the biggest reconstruction contracts have been allocated to major US firms such as Bechtel and Halliburton, which have ties to the Bush administration. They were selected behind closed doors, with no opportunity for competitors to present bids.

It is also a dramatic departure from Saddam Hussein's centralised management of the Iraqi economy, which was reasonably successful in capitalising on the country's oil wealth to build state-of-the-art hospitals, schools and other infrastructure, at least until the upheavals of the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and the imposition of United Nations sanctions from 1991.

One Arab expert, who asked not to be named, said: "There's a fear that privatisation of too many things will lead to things being sold off for a mess of potage."

Kamel al-Gailani, the Finance Minister in the provisional government, said the moves were part of a policy of opening Iraq to free market competition that would deliver investment, job creation and long-term economic growth. It will apply to everything from industry to health and water.

"We are providing Iraqi citizens with the freedom and opportunities they were denied for so long under the Baath party to realise their economic potential," he said. "The reforms will advance efforts to build a free and open market economy in Iraq, promote Iraq's future economic growth, [and] accelerate Iraq's re-entry into the international economy and reintegration with other countries."

The moves presented by Mr Gailani, approved by the US and UK's coalition provisional authority, include:

* 100 per cent foreign ownership in all sectors except natural resources;

* direct ownership as well as joint ventures and setting up branches;

* full, immediate remittance to the host country of profits, dividends, interest and royalties;

* no condition on the need to source products locally;

* no need for clearance for foreign investment.

The council plans to allow six overseas banks to snap up local banks over the next five years, after which there will be no limit on the amount of foreign ownership. Although banks will have to stump up $25m (£15m) capital requirement, there is no restriction on where money is invested. Privatisation of everything from electricity and telecommunications to pharmaceuticals and engineering could see hundreds of previously state-owned companies sold off.

There will be a tax holiday for the rest of this year, and income and business taxes for investors will be capped at 15 per cent from next year. Iraq will cut its trade tariffs to show it is a "country that embraces free trade". A 5 per cent surcharge will be charged on all imports, other than humanitarian goods such as food, medicine and books, to fund the reconstruction effort.

The US defended the decision to offer such a generous package of tax breaks to entice investors. "Capital is a coward," said John Snow, US Treasury Secretary. "It doesn't go places where it feels threatened. Companies will not send employees to places that aren't secure."

Iraq's vast oil reserves - the world's second largest after Saudi Arabia's - would remain in government hands. "They're going to run government finances based on oil revenues," Mr Snow said.

Five months after the overthrow of Saddam, despite billions of dollars worth of contracts won by American companies, there are no visible signs of reconstruction. Clean water and electricity are still not available to most people.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: america; iraq; sale

1 posted on 09/21/2003 2:45:04 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

2 posted on 09/21/2003 2:48:05 PM PDT by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
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To: blam
One Arab expert, who asked not to be named, said: "There's a fear that privatisation of too many things will lead to things being sold TO THE JOOOOOOOZ!!
3 posted on 09/21/2003 2:48:42 PM PDT by Alouette (The bombing begins in five minutes.)
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To: blam
PREMISE #1.

"In an unexpected move unveiled at the meeting of the Group of Seven rich nations in the Middle East, the Iraqi Governing Council, appointed by the US occupiers, announced sweeping reforms to allow total foreign ownership without the need for prior approval."

PREMISE #2.

"The move, accompanied by swingeing cuts in taxes and tariffs, is likely to fuel concerns that Iraq is being turned into a golden opportunity for profiteering by multinational corporations relying on political connections."

Mr. Speaker I'd like to put forth a motion stating that anyone who actually believes in the "concerns" in PREMISE #2 is eiter ignorant or full of B.S..
4 posted on 09/21/2003 2:48:48 PM PDT by Jason Kauppinen
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To: Jason Kauppinen
Actually those should be labelled "excerpts" not "premises"--my bad.
5 posted on 09/21/2003 2:49:48 PM PDT by Jason Kauppinen
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To: blam
Andrew Gumbel certainly is a busy man with an axe to grind.
6 posted on 09/21/2003 2:59:23 PM PDT by niteowl77 (If you haven't prayed for our troops, please start; if you stopped, then do some catching up.)
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To: blam
Five months after the overthrow of Saddam, despite billions of dollars worth of contracts won by American companies, there are no visible signs of reconstruction.

Thus the Independent continues it's "proud" tradition of blaring blatatant lies, and running its editorials in the news pages.

And why all the beating around the bush anyway? Why not say plainly what this "news" story is saying implicitly: "The Independent is inconsolable that Iraq will be capitalist society."

7 posted on 09/21/2003 2:59:53 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Jason Kauppinen
Gumbel files three stories about the failures of Iraq and the desperation of Presidnet Bush. He does this all from Los Angeles while sitting in an open air cafe looking a menu of anti-american prosocialist ideas. Heck he could do this in his sleep, he know the news before he writes it.
8 posted on 09/21/2003 3:02:29 PM PDT by q_an_a
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To: blam
America Puts Iraq Up For Sale

Yeah, sure. Democratic right wingers are everywhere in the world. This probably originated from one of them.

9 posted on 09/21/2003 3:03:13 PM PDT by tazman3 (Hello DUers. How ya doing?)
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To: blam
It is also a dramatic departure from Saddam Hussein's centralised management of the Iraqi economy, which was reasonably successful in capitalising on the country's oil wealth to build state-of-the-art hospitals, schools and other infrastructure, at least until the upheavals of the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and the imposition of United Nations sanctions from 1991.

<sniff> another socialist utopia ground down by the Vast International Capitalist Conspiracy!

10 posted on 09/21/2003 3:27:02 PM PDT by jennyp (http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: TADSLOS
What they fail to mention is that income tax in Iraq is now capped at 15% max., and tarriffs are 5%. Which means the open foreign direct investment will probably work out quite nicely for the Iraqi people.

Imagine, an Arab country with a free economy! THAT is something to celebrate. And it will show the rest of the Arab world how it's done.
11 posted on 09/21/2003 3:58:08 PM PDT by eno_ (Freedom Lite - it's almost worth defending)
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To: eno_
What they fail to mention is that income tax in Iraq is now capped at 15% max

Too bad our legislators won't make that the percentage cap here in the U.S. Of course, they don't have any problem voting themselves a pay raise every year.

12 posted on 09/21/2003 4:14:12 PM PDT by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
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To: TADSLOS
no reserve and bids start at a dollar?
13 posted on 09/21/2003 4:15:29 PM PDT by linn37 (Have you hugged your Phlebotomist today?)
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To: linn37
Buy it today! - ONLY $87,000,000,000!
14 posted on 09/21/2003 4:23:49 PM PDT by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
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To: blam
The moves presented by Mr Gailani, approved by the US and UK's coalition provisional authority, include:

* 100 per cent foreign ownership in all sectors except natural resources;

* direct ownership as well as joint ventures and setting up branches;

* full, immediate remittance to the host country of profits, dividends, interest and royalties;

* no condition on the need to source products locally;

* no need for clearance for foreign investment

Sounds like a prescription for prosperity.

15 posted on 09/21/2003 4:57:15 PM PDT by Former Proud Canadian
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To: blam
I remember trying to explain to someone that, in the US, oil in the ground belongs to the farmer that owns the land.

They couldn't quite understand a system in which just anyone can own oil.

Imagine trying to explain to people the idea that anyone should be able to own anything, and keep their earnings. When they legalize 100% foreign ownership, with full repatriation of profits, that is essentially what we have in the US. Anyone can buy anything, and actually own it as long as you pay your taxes and obey the law. What a startlingly novel idea.
16 posted on 09/21/2003 5:02:42 PM PDT by marron
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To: jennyp

It is also a dramatic departure from Saddam Hussein's centralised management of the Iraqi economy, which was reasonably successful in capitalising on the country's oil wealth to build state-of-the-art hospitals, schools and other infrastructure, at least until the upheavals of the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and the imposition of United Nations sanctions from 1991.

<sniff> another socialist utopia ground down by the Vast International Capitalist Conspiracy!

Saddam might have been even more successful if only he'd made proper use of all his resources, for instance by selling the hair of slaughtered Kurds and Shia for wigs. Doubtless Andrew Gumbel could have advised him.

17 posted on 09/21/2003 8:20:38 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: eno_
Imagine, an Arab country with a free economy! THAT is something to celebrate.

There already are several. (All having reformed since Gulf War I, but of course you won't hear that from the "war doesn't solve anything" crowd.) According to the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, Bahrain and the U.A.E. have more free economies than Tawain, Israel, Japan or France. Kuwait's is as free as France's, and Qatar nearly so. The column heads got stripped, but the overall score (the lower the better) immediately follows the year (which is the last time the country was evaluated):


18 posted on 09/21/2003 8:50:16 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: jennyp
For a refreshing contratst, see:

Bolster Freedom, Not Dependence, in Iraq (Heritage Foundation Advises Economic Freedom)

19 posted on 09/21/2003 9:13:23 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis
Point well taken, but Qatar and Kuwait are both small and rich, so the benefit of economic liberty in those countries is less visible. And neither of them could serve as an example to Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Bringing Iraq (and Iran) into the modern world is what it takes to lead the Arab nations out of darkness.
20 posted on 09/22/2003 5:48:50 AM PDT by eno_ (Freedom Lite - it's almost worth defending)
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To: blam
The Independent is deeply saddened.
21 posted on 09/22/2003 8:03:59 AM PDT by Sparta (CLARK 2004: Psychotic, perfumed prince, globalist, Clintonista, Saddam lover. What's not to love.)
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To: blam
"Five months after the overthrow of Saddam, despite billions of dollars worth of contracts won by American companies, there are no visible signs of reconstruction. Clean water and electricity are still not available to most people."

Complete and utter horse methane. Even the most pessimistic of media admit that the power is on almost constantly all over the country, and that the water system is on constantly. If it were NOT, you can bet it would be in every news report. There is lots of visible construction and re-construction in every part of the country. This guy is just another Baghdad Bob.

Michael

22 posted on 09/22/2003 8:08:50 AM PDT by Wright is right! (Have a profitable day!)
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: kneejerk-free
Right. Obviously Saddam distributed the water and electricity much more equitably. (Always on in the rape rooms no doubt.) Cleary we should shove the children back into the prisons, dump the skeletons back into the mass graves, and let Saddam reinstate his socialist paradise.
26 posted on 09/23/2003 1:08:58 AM PDT by Stultis
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To: kneejerk-free
The paper is reporting the absolute God's truth in this instance.

Yes, they are reporting the truth insofar as reporting that the United States and the Coalition are doing everything possible to make Iraq attractive to capital investment; which is absolutely vital to any developing country, indeed to any economically healthy country whatsoever. The fact that they are clearly upset about this, and consider such provision for future Iraqi prosperity a betrayal of Iraq (not to mention their embedding this editorial perspective in what is supposedly a news story) clearly indicates their over-the-top, extremist, far-left perspective.

Please point out to me any of their "blatant Lies" and I'd be glad to examine them.

No visible signs of reconstruction? Please! It's all over the country. Hell, I watched the four day C-SPAN special on "Rebuidling Iraq" and saw it for myself, both work well in progress and completed work, and that was nearly 3 months ago!

27 posted on 09/23/2003 1:19:56 AM PDT by Stultis
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To: kneejerk-free
Why is it that if anyone disagrees with an American action, that they're all of a sudden "friends of the enemy"?

Because there is no apparent motivation in subverting the creation of a free and successful Iraq through blatantly slanted and false reporting except for love of totalitarianism or hatred of America (or of liberal civilization generally).

28 posted on 09/23/2003 1:26:18 AM PDT by Stultis
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To: kneejerk-free; Admin Moderator
"...Sounds like a prescription for prosperity"

Only for those who already have money. Not at all for the Iraqi people.

Newbie, anti-capitalist, potential disrupter. Keep an eye on this one.

29 posted on 09/23/2003 1:28:30 AM PDT by Stultis
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