Iraq to spend $275bn on reconstruction over next five years

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A view of Baghdad city.

Iraq’s planning ministry said on Wednesday it would be spending $250-275 billion on infrastructure projects and other investments over the next five years.

The oil-rich nation needs development in almost every sector from scratch, as buildings are pockmarked from bombings during the US invasion and subsequent civil war.

“Allocating these huge sums will have a positive effect on pushing the development pace forward,” Planning Minister Ali al-Shukri, who was attending a financial and investment conference in London, said.

His office said in a statement that the investment plan will run during the next five years without giving further details about possible projects or investors.

Shukri called on foreign companies to invest in Iraq’s housing, tourism, agriculture, industry and higher education sectors.

Other than oil, economic development in Iraq has lagged despite an easing of violence since the height of sectarian strife in 2006-2007.

The country still suffers from terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda affiliated terror gangs who carry out deadly attacks, bombings and assassinations on a daily basis which make security costs a large burden for foreign investors.

Investors also complain about bureaucracy and red tape. Government infighting has delayed projects in areas such as electricity and telecommunications.

However, the market is potentially lucrative for foreign investors.

On 30 May, Iraq signed a final contract worth $7.75 billion with South Korea’s Hanwha Engineering & Construction company to build 100,000 housing units on the outskirts of Baghdad as part of the government’s plan to alleviate a severe housing shortage.

Also in May, the deputy minister of industry said that the ministry was in talks with Shell to build a petrochemicals factory that would cost at least $8-10 billion in the southern oil hub of Basra.

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