Iraq Economic News Highlights and Points to Ponder Thursday AM 10-26-23


Iraq Economic News Highlights and Points to Ponder Thursday AM 10-26-23

The Major Problem Has Not Yet Been Resolved. The Oil And Gas Law Is Still Locked Up And Has Not Yet Reached Parliament

Time: 10/26/2023 Read: 130 times   {Economic: Al-Furat News} Member of the Parliamentary Oil, Gas and Natural Resources Committee, Adnan Al-Jabri, confirmed today, Thursday, that the oil and gas law is still under the Cabinet’s agenda and has not yet reached the House of Representatives to vote on it.

Since the first session of the House of Representatives, in 2005, the draft oil and gas law has been stuck in drawers, as disagreements prevent its approval in its final form.

Al-Jabri told {Al-Furat News}: “The oil and gas law is still on the list of the Council of Ministers and has not yet reached Parliament, but there is follow-up from specialized committees formed by the Council of Ministers.”

He added: “When the law reaches Parliament, it will be given a first reading and then it will be discussed and studied by the committee to be presented for a second reading.”

He pointed out that “it is not possible to talk about transferring the project because it has not yet reached the House of Representatives and the Cabinet committees are discussing it in the presence of the governorates responsible for writing up the draft law and voting on it in the Council of Ministers and then sending it to Parliament.”

Iraq exports an average of 3.3 million barrels of crude oil per day, and black gold constitutes more than 90 percent of the state’s treasury resources.

The draft oil and gas law in Iraq available to Parliament stipulates that responsibility for managing the country’s oil fields must be entrusted to a national oil company, and supervised by a federal council specialized in this subject.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani said, in early last August, that “the draft oil and gas law is one of the basic and important laws, representing a factor of strength and unity for Iraq, and it has been stuck for years, at a time when the country today is in dire need of its legislation and to benefit from this natural wealth, in “All fields and sectors, in addition to the contribution of the legislation to solving many outstanding problems.”

He explained that “there are governorates whose wealth has not been invested to date, which is considered negative for development endeavors in all their paths,” according to a report by the “INA” agency.

The dispute over the issue of oil has been a major source of tension between Baghdad and Erbil for years. Last year, the matter reached the judiciary, as Erbil believed that the central government was seeking to seize control of the region’s wealth, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

In February 2022, the Federal Court in Baghdad ordered the region to deliver the oil produced on its lands to Baghdad, and to cancel contracts the region had signed with foreign companies.

The matter reached the point where the judiciary in Baghdad invalidated contracts with many foreign companies, especially American and Canadian companies.

A temporary agreement signed between Baghdad and Erbil in early April stipulates that Kurdistan oil sales will be made through the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company “SOMO,” while revenues generated from the region’s fields will be deposited in a bank account with the Central Bank of Iraq or one of the banks approved by the Central Bank of Iraq. From: Raghad Dahham   LINK

Parliamentary Integrity: Distinctive Car Numbers Are Another Door To Money Laundering

The first  10/26/2023   Although many measures have been taken on the ground to restrict transnational crimes, including money laundering and terrorist financing, specialists in integrity and combating financial and administrative corruption point out that there are shifts and practices in opening new doors for money laundering at home.

After real estate, precious stones, collectibles, precious metals, types of expensive wheels, malls, and cafeterias, we are faced with a new phenomenon represented by the auction of distinctive car numbers.

Head of the “National Approach” bloc and member of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee, Ahmed Taha Al-Rubaie, told “Al-Sabah” that, “At a time when we praise the efforts of the Federal Integrity Commission and its work to combat corruption and monitor cases of illicit gain and financial inflation, especially in what happened in the file…

Real estate, it is necessary to draw the attention of the concerned authorities to the new phenomenon that is tinged with doubts, which is the phenomenon of auctioning the distinctive numbers of wheels, behind which money laundering operations are hidden.”

He added, “The price of single numbers (one Baghdad) ranges from 5 to 7 million dollars after the previous price was one million dollars, and from (2 to 10 Baghdad) it increased from 2 million to 5 million dollars.

As for the prices of the governorates, the amounts differ; the price reaches (1 governorate) to 2 million dollars,” calling on “the Federal Integrity Commission and the Money Laundering Department to monitor this phenomenon to find out the reasons for selling these numbers at these imaginary prices.”

For his part, anti-corruption activist, Saeed Yassin, indicated in an interview with “Al-Sabah” that “it is striking that the prices that are imposed on buyers are imaginary and exceed millions of dinars and dollars,” wondering about “the meaning of the rare number reaching about 7 million.”

One dollar (from 1 to 10 Baghdad) and the price of two million dollars (from 20 to 100 Baghdad), except for the triple numbers that reach 800 thousand dollars.”

He added, “The luxury has reached the point of choosing numbers according to birth, so we need to take a closer look. Here we are faced with several questions, the first of which is the significance of the Traffic Department setting the price for the number at 100 million dinars as a starting point for the bidding.”

Yassin noted that “the general impression is that we are facing money laundering because those who trade in buying and selling are the velvet class, which a French study indicated, as it stated that the number of billionaires in Iraq reaches 35 thousand individuals and millionaires reaches 16 thousand individuals, and through follow-up and circulated information there are more From an individual who owns more than one wheel with rare numbers.”

In turn, the rapporteur of the Parliamentary Finance Committee for the fourth session, Dr. Ahmed Al-Saffar, confirmed in an interview with “Al-Sabah” that “the process of money laundering is clear in the phenomenon of buying distinctive numbers, as a single individual can own more than one number, and therefore is not held legally accountable, and thus there is Legalization of illegal gain.

He noted that “the process of money laundering is widespread in countries where corruption is widespread or where corruption is very large and the legal procedures against the owners of that money are weak, as a result of purchasing receivables.”

He pointed out, “After money laundering projects became known, such as investments, hotels, and lands, owners of illegal funds found another way to launder money, which is to buy special numbers at fantastic prices that exceed the value of a car.

Special numbers are an excellent, quick, and easy way to launder money, especially since they are They are sold at ridiculous prices, and even the government has begun selling private numbers through advertising and bidding, so the Money Laundering Department and the Federal Integrity Commission must follow up on those active in these investments to eliminate another door of money laundering.”

Edited by: Muhammad Al-Ansari

Warning That Iraqi Funds Remain With The US Federal Bank – Urgent

Economy |Today   Baghdad today – Baghdad   Today, Thursday (October 26, 2023), economic expert Saleh Al-Sarfi warned of the consequences of Iraqi funds remaining with the US Federal Bank, noting that their presence may constitute a tool of pressure exerted by Washington on Baghdad. 

The banker said in an interview with “Baghdad Today”, “All Iraqi oil funds are deposited directly in a special account in the US Federal Bank, and Baghdad is submitting a request to obtain the funds to cover operational expenses and the rest of the other obligations,” pointing out that “this procedure is not recent, but has been adopted.” During the economic blockade in the nineties of the last century after the application of the oil-for-food principle.

He added, “Washington’s excuses for keeping Iraq’s funds under its control at the Federal Reserve are due to the state of political instability and the consideration that the country is going through complex and unstable circumstances, in addition to protecting the funds from a large number of cases filed against Baghdad as a result of previous wars.”

He pointed out that “there are risks from Iraqi funds remaining in the US Federal Reserve, most notably the direct impact of any crisis that strikes the American economy, in addition to it being considered a pressure tool that Washington can exert towards Baghdad.” 

On October 6, Washington rejected Iraq’s request to obtain one billion dollars in cash from the Federal Reserve Bank, under the pretext that it conflicts with their efforts to curb Baghdad’s use of the dollar and stop illicit cash flows to Iran.

The American Wall Street Journal reported that since the American invasion of Iraq two decades ago, the United States has provided $10 billion or more annually to Baghdad via bi-monthly cargo flights, and the money is derived from the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales deposited with the Federal Reserve Bank.

American officials said, “Banknotes in the hands of Iraqis have become a lucrative source of illicit dollars that go back to militias and corrupt politicians, as well as to Iran.”

By applying for an additional $1 billion shipment, Iraq says it needs the money to help prop up its faltering currency. A senior Iraqi official explained that “last week, the Central Bank of Iraq submitted an official request that the Treasury Ministry is still studying, after Washington rejected the initial request submitted by Iraq last month.”

According to the newspaper, since last November, Washington has prevented 18 Iraqi banks from dealing in dollars, adopting stricter rules for electronic transfers in dollars from its banks.

Treasury officials told Iraqi central bank governors that sending a large additional shipment conflicts with Washington’s goal of limiting Iraq’s use of US banknotes, Iraqi officials said.

American officials spoke of conclusive evidence that some of the dollars that were arriving in Iraq were smuggled in cash over the years to Iran, as well as to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman said regarding the Iraqi request, “The United States continues to support Iraq with dollar banknotes and has not restricted its access to ordinary Iraqis and businesses,” indicating continued work with the Central Bank of Iraq.   LINK

Provoking Points To Ponder:

Crisis — You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose —Indira Gandhi

Hope — There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow — O S Marden
Mistakes — A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing — George Bernard Shaw

Anger is seldom without argument – but seldom with a good one —Hallfax

An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason — Publilius Syrus

Anybody can become angry – that is easy – but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time – and for the right purpose and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy — Aristotle 

Tolerance  is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them — Joshua Liebman

Forgiveness — Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury — E. H. Chapin