Leaving Iraq would bring 53bn dlrs reconstruction back to square one, fears America

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Baghdad, Nov. 21 (ANI): The United States has spent 53 billion dollars in relief and reconstruction work in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, but American officials fear that Iraq will not be able to maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, a report in The New York Times said on Saturday

The American concerns have been raised at a time when Iraq is preparing for national elections in January.

American forces are scheduled to begin withdrawing in large numbers next year.

US officials think that Iraq will not be able to provide even the basic facilities to its people.

According to the report, the projects which have failed, include a cutting-edge 270 million dollar water treatment plant that works at a fraction of its intended capacity because it is too sophisticated for Iraqi workers to operate, a farmers' market that farmers cannot decide how to share, and a large American hospital that closed immediately after it was handed over to Iraq because the government was unable to supply it with equipment, medical staff or electricity.

"As large-scale construction projects - power plants, water-treatment systems and oil facilities - have been completed, there has been concern regarding the ability of Iraqis to maintain and fund their operations once they are handed over to the Iraqi authorities," the report quoted a recent analysis prepared for Congress by the Congressional Research Service, as finding.

The Government Accountability Office and the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction have also warned about the potential failure of American-financed projects once they are transferred to Iraq, it said.

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said that his watchdog agency had "regularly raised concerns about the potential waste of U.S. taxpayer money resulting from reconstruction projects that were poorly planned, badly transferred, or insufficiently sustained by the Iraqi government."

The Iraqi government has pledged to begin spending more of its own money on reconstruction from next year, but the country is facing a substantial budget deficit because of declines in international oil prices. (ANI)

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