July 20th was a remarkable, truly groundbreaking day for Iraqis. It is the day Iraqiyya and State of Law decided they would ”intensify dialogue”’. July has been full of treats for those pesky voters who keep demanding that they want a government. Just two days before, Messrs Allawi and Moqtada made an even more momentous announcement: that they have agreed ”to speed up the formation of a government”.
I don’t know what on earth it is that the average-Jo(wad) wants. Granted electricity is a bit poor, health services aren’t great and air and noise pollution are a bit high…what with those car bombs and all…but at least they can now choose who they want to govern them. It’s only been four and a half months since they risked life and limb to vote. And its not like our politicians have been laying idle that whole time either. For goodness sake they just agreed that they would intensify dialogue!
But wait…there is a problem. I’m an economist. So I’ll try to explain it in numbers. You see, at the beginning of the year, Iraq released its 2010 budget of US$71bn. Out of this, US$51bn will go towards ‘operating costs’ (i.e wages). US19.7bn was allocated for capital expenditure (i.e schools, hospitals, roads, electricity projects)….the little luxuries those annoying little voters expect, for some reason or another.
If the government actually stuck to this budget, Iraq would have a deficit of US$19bn this year. The thing is, 6 months into the fiscal year and Iraq is not running a deficit. This is because the money put aside for capital projects is not being spent. So what we have, effectively, is lame-duck administration that is unable to do anything to lavish these little luxuries on the Iraqi people, even though it has the money to do so.
I am glad that dialogue will now be ”intensified”. Who knows, maybe we will be lucky enough to have a government in Iraq before the start of Ramadhan…if we don’t, then I have a suggestion. Maybe Iraq could adopt anarchy as its formal system of governance. It makes perfect sense; we will have the same outcome, but wont be paying US$3,510,000 a month for 325 dialogue intensifiers to facilitate nothingness.