Sunday, July 01, 2007

Report: Iraq to fast-track privatization

Above and left: Soldiers with the 1st Cavalry Division conduct a raid on a Pepsi factory in Mosul in February. Privatization of state-owned industries has been a major goal of the Bush administration from the beginning of the occupation.

The Iraqi government has begun preparing the groundwork for what could be one of the biggest privatisations of state-owned assets.

The Sunday Telegraph has learned that officials from the government have recently held talks with banking and legal advisers in London. City sources said Iraq's minister for industry, Fawzi Hariri, was looking to appoint advisers to draw up a memorandum of understanding to sell off the country's non-oil assets, ranging from petrochemical plants to construction companies, hotels and airlines, as early as this month.

The privatisation proposals could also include a massive extension of foreign participation in the oil industry...

However, sources cautioned that the move could simply be a sop to the American administration. The US Congress will consider a report on progress in Iraq in September and a privatisation programme could be presented as some kind of progress in lieu of any real improvement in the security situation.

Read the rest at the Telegraph