Iraq must cut food rations in 2008-trade minister

Thu Dec 6, 2007 6:49am EST

BAGHDAD Dec 6 (Reuters) - Iraq will have to cut food rations in 2008 because of insufficient funds, Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany said.

His ministry had asked the government for more than $7 billion in next year's budget to distribute 10 basic items but received only $3 billion.

"This means that ... five items (will be distributed): Sugar, flour, rice, milk and (cooking) oil," Sudany said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Sudany said his ministry would continue to distribute its stockpiles of other items such as lentils, chickpeas and soap, but would be unable to buy more.

Iraq's food ration system was started under Saddam Hussein as a response to United Nations economic sanctions following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Sudany said more than 60 percent of Iraq's population rely on the rations. Under the system Iraqi families are issued cards to receive food from trade ministry outlets in each neighbourhood. (Writing by Alaa Shahine; Editing by Robert Woodward)

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