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Observers estimate the losses incurred by companies, banks and the business sector in Iraq in general between 40 and 50 million dollars a day, due to the Iraqi authorities cut off the Internet service throughout the country since the outbreak of protests on October 1, in protest against the spread of corruption and deteriorating living conditions. The total loss of $ 400 million to $ 500 million over the past 10 days, and these losses are eligible to increase if the Internet continues to be cut in the coming days, according to the leaders of financial and business organizations.
The Internet service, which was recently restored by Baghdad at certain times, was quickly cut again due to disgruntled popular demonstrations coupled with unprecedented repression and violence, which caused delays in receiving salaries for some 6 million Iraqis, as well as a complete paralysis in the system of remittances and banking transactions, and granted many Companies and commercial agencies for their employees leave open until service returns.
According to a senior Iraqi official in Baghdad, "the private sector is the most affected by the interruption of the Internet, and it is not known whether it will be compensated for these losses or not?", Indicating in a telephone conversation with the "new Arab" that the tourism companies, mobile phone, remittance and import Banks and the stock market, the most affected in the country.
The official, who declined to be named, said that "millions of dollars of money transfers are carried out daily through banks and all stopped, which means that these banks suffer heavy losses, in addition to other sectors, such as air transport lines that rely on electronic booking."
"Private sector losses cannot be calculated now, but initial estimates say they are in any way between $ 40 and $ 50 million as a whole," said Mohammed al-Zubaidi, a Baghdad Chamber of Commerce member, adding that the government is legally obliged to pay compensation to those affected by the cuts. ”.
According to al-Zubaidi: “Steps such as cutting off the Internet frighten foreign companies and give them a signal that the government role is not reassuring, and reflect that it is unable to make the right decisions, because the deliberate interruption of the Internet for days to control protesters, is explained by those who run the country do not appreciate its importance in Today's world, and therefore this does not encourage investors to pour money into new projects in Iraq.
“Mobile phone companies, remittances, money exchanges and tourism bureaus are among the most affected private economic sectors because they rely mainly on the Internet, and if they stop, they close.”
The Iraqi government cut off the Internet after protests spread across several provinces, as well as the capital Baghdad, and saw more than 120 people killed and more than 6,000 injured, as a result of the use of excessive violence by security forces.
The government returned the Internet on Tuesday, October 8, for hours before re-blocking it, and then on Tuesday morning, for several hours as well. The Ministry of Communications published a statement saying that the Internet will work in Iraq from 8 am to 3 pm daily.
The statement issued yesterday: "The Internet works during working days to facilitate the work in government departments, with the continued ban on all social networking sites." Thus, the statement suggests that Friday and Saturday will be cut off, which means that the private sector will not be taken into account in this decision, which does not know how long it will last.
For seven days, the travel and tourism offices continued to apologize to their clients, some of whom suffered heavy losses as a result of being unable to travel.
Ali al-Saidi, who runs a tourism company, said their offices were open in the past few days without work or employees. What the government does not realize is that the situation is catastrophic for us.
He added that in addition to financial losses, there are humanitarian and health damage to many patients who have bookings for surgery outside the country, and those who have appointments, commitments and actions that require their travel. And booked again, resulting in double costs and hardship. ”
The autonomous Kurdistan region of three governorates: Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk, was not interrupted by the Internet, and there were no protests.
Ali Ibrahim, who owns an office for exchange and remittances, confirms that his business has fallen by 98%.
He said that the transactions of banking offices and remittances ranges between 200 thousand and one million dollars per day, but with the cessation of the Internet has become almost stopped, and there are simple operations conducted manually, pointing out that the salaries of retirees, which are disbursed through the Central Bank distributed through the offices of remittances and banking by electronic cards Retirees had to wait.
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