2003 May 04 Sunday
An Iraqi Capitalist Says It Is Time To Privatize

Most of the economic discussion about Iraq revolves around oil. The questions debated tend to be whether the oil reserves should be sold or leased to the highest bidders, whether the government oil company should split up and privatized, and whether pre-war contracts with French and Russian firms should be honored. The question of the oil industry in Iraq is an emotionally charged subject because of fears of America's intentions. It is difficult to know what the best approach is to the oil assets. But the Iraqi economy has many other parts which could be dealt with more rationally and those parts could flourish and grow under the right circumstances. New York Times reporter Patrick Graham met a Baghdad Iraqi from an old trading family who offers the strong advice that the government owned industries in Iraq should be sold off in quickly within two or three years.

His biggest worry is that the new government will revert to the old socialist system, leaving a huge public sector and a corrupt system designed to benefit a few. ''Iraq needs a privatization czar,'' he said. ''Now, the ministry of industry owns the industries. That's wrong. They should look at it like it's a hostile takeover. Buy it, crack it up, sell it off. If I had control, I'd go to the C.I.A. or whoever is in charge now and get them to put a minister of finance, the heads of the private banks and the business groups in a room and make them come up with a financial solution. They need to set up a preliminary budget, get that money that's in escrow and pay the employees in charge of services. And they have to privatize. The Chinese model is too slow. Iraq needs a quicker pace, say two or three years.''

This argument makes sense. It is better to sell off all the industries there while the American government is still in control so that the eventual native government will not be tempted to continue to pursue socialist policies.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 04 03:30 PM  Reconstruction and Reformation

Rob Keogh said at May 4, 2003 11:28 PM:

Selling off the industries of a conquered nation is the vision of Democracy the US wants to promote? Sounds like Empire as usual.

Bob said at May 5, 2003 12:00 AM:

Rob, are you some kind of commie or something?

The people of Iraq need the cash they would raise to rebuild the infrastructure atrophied by the prior regime. Since the industries would be sold primarily to Iraqis and employ primarily Iraqis and raise money to rebuild Iraq, I don't get what you mean about empire.

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