White House defends reconstruction policy in Iraq
The White House defended a US government decision to limit competition for "prime contracts" for reconstruction projects in Iraq to companies from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners and nations contributing forces to help maintain Iraqi security.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters on December 10, 2003, that the policy, announced in a December 5 directive from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, is "perfectly appropriate and reasonable."
The Wolfowitz directive covers contracts to manage the entire rebuilding effort, train and equip the Iraqi National Army and rebuild infrastructure including roads, sewers, power plants and oil fields. Companies from coalition nations will be permitted to bid on $18.6 billion reconstruction contracts.
The policy directive says restricting contract bids "is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States." McClellan said "[w]e are talking about US taxpayer dollars here, and I think it is appropriate and reasonable to expect that the Iraqi people and those countries who have been working with the United States and contributing forces to the efforts in Iraq would be the ones that would be eligible for the prime contracts."
He said "we want to continue to build upon the coalition that has been in Iraq and the countries that have been contributing forces. We want to continue to build upon that because this is about the Iraqi people in the end, and building a better future for the Iraqi people."
Asked about the reported angry response from Germany, Canada and some other US allies that had opposed the US-led war in Iraq, McClellan said "we would welcome the opportunity to talk to them and explain to them about why this decision was made." The decision, he pointed out, was made "through an interagency process," and is fully supported by the White House.
McClellan also said that firms in the some 60 countries allowed to bid for contracts are fully welcome to go to firms in other countries and involve them in subcontracts. He said the administration believes the policy "is fully consistent" with its obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO). — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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