2006 July 02 Sunday
Civil Servant Incomes Up In Iraq

The New York Times has an article about why school enrollment is up in Iraq. Reason? More people can afford to send their kids to school. Where are they getting the money? Working for their government. Almost half of working Iraqis work for the government and their salaries have risen by at least one order of magnitude.

Even in provinces that have experienced population declines, for example, school enrollment is still up. In Anbar the large desert province in western Iraq, where insurgents regularly battle American soldiers, causing residents to flee enrollment in primary school is up by 15 percent, and in secondary and high school it is up by 37 percent.

Economics is driving much of the rise, officials say. Public sector employees, who make up almost half the work force in Iraq, according to the Ministry of Planning, used to collect the equivalent of several dollars every month under Mr. Hussein. But since the American invasion, Iraq's oil revenue has been earmarked for salaries instead of wars, and millions of Iraqis doctors, engineers, teachers, soldiers began to earn several hundred dollars a month.

Income from oil covers more than 90 percent of the Iraqi government's spending, officials say. American money finances investment and reconstruction projects, but no current costs, like salaries.

I wonder whether the Iraqi government will increasingly hire Shias to displace Sunnis in the civil service. I also wonder whether the locations of jobs will get shifted in order to allow Shias and Sunnis to work apart from each other and therefore to live in more ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods.

I wonder how many Iraqis working for the government are funding family members who have fled abroad. Iraqis have doubled rental prices in Amman Jordan.

Dalia Lami, a Baghdad resident who fled to Amman, Jordan, a year ago after her brother was killed, said she has watched as the Jordanian capital has absorbed more and more Iraqis.

She said apartment rents in Jordan had doubled in the last year because of the influx of Iraqis, both vacationers and those on extended stays. She said Iraqis arriving in Jordan often go on spending sprees, buying items not available in Iraq.

"At the malls, you only hear Iraqi accents, not Jordanian, because they are the ones who are spending their money," she said in a telephone interview. "In Iraq, you can't spend money. If you spend too much money you stand out in the crowd and risk kidnapping."

When you read the happy talk stories about how Iraq's economy is growing keep in mind that the higher incomes are due to bigger salaries of government employees and that the money is coming from higher oil prices.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 July 02 09:53 AM 


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