| BAGHDAD, Sept 19
BAGHDAD, Sept 19 Iraq's government has released
a five-year economic plan which will try to diversify beyond oil
production and develop the industrial sector.
The plan, announced this week, faces major obstacles
including a rising level of sectarian violence and political
infighting within the country's fractious coalition government.
But if implemented, it could mark a new stage in Iraq's
recovery from decades of war and international economic
sanctions. So far, the recovery since the U.S. invasion of 2003
has been based almost entirely on rising oil production.
"The government made a decision to focus on other sources in
the country instead of oil, so the new plan will basically focus
on industry instead of oil," said Hussain al-Shahristani, deputy
prime minister for energy affairs.
The plan for the years 2013 to 2017 calls for investment of
approximately $357 billion in development projects across the
country, focusing in particular on five sectors: building and
services, agriculture, education, transport and communications,
About 79 percent of that investment total would come from
the government and the rest from the private sector.
Oil would remain by far the biggest source of revenue for
the government during this period. Revenues from oil in the five
years are projected at 768.7 trillion dinars ($662 billion),
with revenues from non-oil sources at 43.5 trillion dinars.
Production of crude oil is envisioned rising from 3.2
million barrels per day in 2012 to 9.5 million bpd in 2017, with
crude oil exports climbing from 2.6 million bpd to 6 million bpd
in 2017, assuming an average oil price of $85 per barrel over
the five years.
Many analysts think such targets may be much too optimistic,
given logistical bottlenecks and the damage which the sectarian
violence is doing to oil production and government operations.
Iraq aims to increase its storage capacity for crude oil for
export from 10.987 million barrels to 30.057 million barrels in
The five-year plan also envisages increases in agricultural
production to reduce Iraq's dependence on grain imports.
"The plan aims to produce about six million tonhnes of wheat
in 2017 which will cover the domestic consumption, and to raise
the average production of barley from 820,000 tonnes in 2011 to
1.2 million tonnes in 2017," said Sami Matti, technical deputy
minister at the ministry of planning.
He said Iraq's total production under the plan would rise by
an average of 13 percent annually, while the country's poverty
rate would fall from 19 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2017.
The government also hopes the plan will help to reduce economic
disparities between rural and urban areas.