US Treasury Department: Iraq's financial reconstruction a priority
A US Treasury Department task force is working to address financial and economic aspects of Iraq's reconstruction, including restoring operations of the Finance Ministry, the Central Bank, commercial banks and the stock market, Treasury Secretary John Snow was quoted as saying by the Washington File.
"We start from the premise that our role is to help the Iraqi people rather than to impose changes upon them," Snow said April 30, 2003, in prepared testimony before a panel of the House of Representatives.
He told the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee that Treasury will work with Iraqis on "essential" reform of those elements of the existing system that are "corrupt, ineffective or inconsistent with a market-oriented economy."
Other priorities include helping Iraq develop a federal budget, a system to supervise and regulate financial institutions, overhaul the tax system and guard against money laundering and terrorist financing, Snow said.
He emphasized that a market-based economy in Iraq will require a system of commercial law that covers issues ranging from protection of real estate to intellectual property rights. Treasury is working with the State Department, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the emerging leadership in Iraq to rebuild the economy, he said.
US officials also expect the World Bank and International Monetary Fund [IMF] to play an "important role in supporting" reconstruction of post-war Iraq, Snow said. "The World Bank is already forming a team of experts to conduct a needs assessment in Iraq, which will help focus attention on assistance priorities and lay the groundwork for economic recovery and growth," he said.
Snow added that the IMF has already provided general advice to Iraq on currency and monetary policy, and has signaled that it is prepared to carry out a needs assessment at the "appropriate time."
Snow's testimony outlined the Treasury Department's request of $1.96 billion for international programs during the 2004 fiscal year, which runs from October 1, 2003 to September 30, 2004. The requested total includes $1.4 billion for annual US payments to multilateral development banks (MDBs), $196 million for repaying US arrears to these banks, $395 million to help ease the debt burden of the world's poorest countries, and $14 million for technical assistance programs. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)