UN panel keeps oil funds flowing for Iraq reconstruction

December 23rd, 2008 - 9:34 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Dec 23 (DPA) The UN Security Council Monday extended for another year arrangements whereby revenues from Iraq’s petroleum and other sources are deposited in a UN-monitored fund for the reconstruction of Iraq.The Development Fund for Iraq was set up by the council in 2003 after the government of former president Saddam Hussein was toppled by a US-led military invasion in March of that year.

The fund is intended to use Iraq’s natural resources for the benefit of its people.

In addition to the oil revenues, the fund receives contributions from the World Bank as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which are members of an advisory and monitoring board.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been deposited and used by Baghdad for development as well as to repay debt incurred under the previous government.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a letter to the council that the fund should continue to operate so his government can build a “new partnership with the international community with a view of integrating its economy into those of the region and the world through the International Compact with Iraq”.

The compact is a larger agreement that provides for worldwide involvement in helping Iraq’s reconstruction efforts.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who attended the council meeting in New York, said his government was embarking on a new phase of economic development as security has improved.

“The support of the international community for our success is vital,” he said. “In turn our success will prove critical to promoting peace and stability in the region and the world.”

Zebari said the fund will protect his country’s assets so it can continue to develop in parallel to the improving security conditions and strengthening of ties with other countries, in particular with the United States, through the process of normalization of ties.

During the decade prior to the 2003 US-led invasion, the United Nations monitored a separate programme, called oil-for-food, which exempted Iraq from sanctions only for the purchase of food and humanitarian materials in exchange for oil revenues.

Although riddled with corruption, the programme did produce a surplus of an estimated $10 billion by the time of the US invasion. Those remaining moneys were then transferred into the current reconstruction programme.

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