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Supporting Investment Policy and Governance Reforms in Iraq

image of Supporting Investment Policy and Governance Reforms in Iraq

This publication reviews measures taken to support investment policy and governance reforms in Iraq.  It finds that Iraqi parliamentary elections, held without major security incidents in March 2010, are the latest in a series of indicators suggesting that the country may be achieving greater stability in governance and security - a key prerequisite for foreign and domestic investment, growth and job creation. Furthermore, the business environment is gradually improving as a result of an ongoing institutional capacity building process supported by the international community.

The MENA-OECD Initiative on Governance and Investment for Development is part of this effort, playing a key role in building the capacity of the National Investment Commission and its one-stop shop for investment licensing. The Initiative has helped raise awareness on corruption and bribery issues, provided training for the negotiators of international agreements, and advised on implementing regulations for the landmark Investment Law of 2006. This publication examines these issues, and MENA-OECD involvement in advancing them, for the period 2007-2008.

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Fighting Corruption in Iraq

Sources and Challenges

The GoI has become increasingly aware of the risks posed by corruption to its country’s development and investment programme. “Corruption” as a term covers a multitude of sins, but is frequently defined as the “abuse of public or private office for private gain”. It distorts economic decision-making and saps economic activity, diminishing the quantity and quality of domestic and foreign investments and aid projects, while businesses that disregard good governance are unduly rewarded with dominance. This, in turn, curbs growth and undermines the credibility of governmental institutions in public opinion. Corruption is particularly critical in countries rich in resources and torn by major military conflicts since the 1990s. They are prone to instability and weak rule of law,1 and opportunities to divert revenue from resources on a grand scale are plentiful, while punitive measures are almost non-existent.2 As many Iraqis observe, corruption also exacerbates sectarian conflict, hampers the re-establishment of functioning public institutions operating under the rule of law, and deters the development of a business-friendly climate. Multiple rounds of information exchange between the GoI, Iraqi business actors, and MENA-OECD have confirmed the existence of widespread corruption in Iraq and its inherent link to the country’s slow economic recovery. Strikingly, the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index published in 2008 ranks Iraq 178 out of 180 countries.

English

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