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Development plans in Iraq are affected by changing priorities in light of events in the country, which is a matter that has caused great losses, according to what the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Planning Maher Hammad Johan said in an interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
* What are the causes of defects in the implementation of development plans in Iraq?
Development projects go through two tracks; The first is the five-year development plan, which sets determinants and goals and is co-written by the Ministry of Planning with the parties concerned with the plan. Unfortunately, this plan is not implemented as required due to the continuous change of priorities of the concerned authorities, including the governorates, to meet the urgent needs.
The second track relates to the relationship of Iraq’s economy to oil and the steadily openness to projects, as the openness takes place horizontally and thousands of them are initiated, and the fact that this openness and changing priorities are imposed by the circumstances, changes, and economic, security and political events that the country is witnessing.
* What is the size of the financial losses due to the delay or suspension of projects?
At the level of the investment budget, we lose annually 3 trillion dinars (two billion dollars) as a result of stopping projects and the deterioration of their assets, as well as delays in providing the envisaged service and not keeping pace with population growth, at the same time, more than 80 percent of the suspended projects have been restored.
* What about the national development plan for the years 2018-2022?
The plan developed strategies that start with the governance of all institutions, the trend for automation, and the improvement of human development indicators, and focused on reducing poverty, completing infrastructure projects in the governorates, and achieving economic diversification by supporting the private sector to provide jobs away from the government sector. However, the country’s circumstances, starting with the demonstrations and the subsequent repercussions of the Corona pandemic and the collapse of oil prices to catastrophic levels, are reasons that led to the failure to proceed with some of the contents of this plan.
But after the improvement in oil prices at the end of 2020, another reason emerged, as the House of Representatives drew a new picture of the 2021 budget presented by the government, and it turned into an expenditure budget, which reduced the allocations for development projects.
* What are the causes of slack in the structure of public jobs in Iraq?
Currently, the percentage of employees from the size of the population in Iraq reaches 8-9 percent, according to what is established in the budget law. As for the sagging caused by the large number of employees in Iraq, several options were put forward to address it, including granting employees wishing to leave the job an end-of-service bonus and others. In fact, as long as the public sector provides salaries and benefits that the private sector cannot match, the government employee will not think of leaving his job, in addition to the fact that the job provides a comfortable retirement.
* What is the annual spending on salaries versus employee productivity?
Last year, during the preparation of the 2022 budget, which was not approved, the size of salaries was estimated at between 48 to 53 trillion dinars (33 to 36 billion dollars) annually, and these expenditures join the operating budget, that is, government spending that ranges between 40-50 percent of the size of the budget. Annual state budget.
As for productivity, we believe that compared to the achieved production outputs, it does not exceed 25% in general, and the hours of production and service in state departments we believe are very low, rising in certain departments and falling in others to a level that may not exceed 10%.
What did the Ministry of Planning do to raise the efficiency and productivity of employees?
The Ministry of Planning was tasked with preparing an administrative reform strategy and another strategy to increase production efficiency, and they were actually exported after being approved by the Council of Ministers. The implementation will not fall on us only, as there is also a role for the Federal Service Council and the targeted ministries, and the goal is to find mechanisms for follow-up, monitoring and evaluation of real performance.
The job number project will also give the government a clear picture of the details of the job body, and the related financial policy, and will contribute to stopping the problem of multiple salaries, as the law does not allow an employee to receive more than one salary, with exceptions related to the families of martyrs and political prisoners.
* Have you determined the size of the fictitious employees in public administrations?
We did not find fictitious people or what the Iraqis call “alien” who receive salaries without work in the first place, or fake names for which others receive salaries, but rather shares of intersection and checking employee information to reveal employees who left work but are still receiving salaries, and others receive social protection salaries. These are allocated to people with low incomes, and employees on permanent owners who work as a contract with other departments, and the reality of the numbers of these may be in the tens of thousands, and work is still underway to conduct an intersection of information, and others may be revealed.
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