Unauthorized transparency continues to be trapped in paper in Iraq.

Dr. Adnan Bahia October 28, 2021

 Iraq joined the International Transparency in Extraction Industries Initiative at the end of 2010, and in light of its accession requirements, a board of trustees was formed to manage it, often headed by the Minister of Oil, and an executive director was appointed based in the Ministry of Oil. The Iraqi Initiative began its work in accordance with the requirements of the International Initiative standard and issued its first report on Iraqi oil sales for 2009, and we are on the verge of issuing reports 11 and 12 for 2019 and 2020.

Ten reports issued so far have cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars printed with many thousands of paper and electronic copies flooded with dust at the Initiative store in Baghdad, and unfortunately distributed in limited quantities to a number of ministries, bodies and organizations. The reports were placed on the shelves motionless, and no institution, ministry, province, advisory or executive body showed appropriate attention to the data and information contained in these reports annually. We have not seen movement from regulatory and planning institutions with these statements to draw attention to the doors of waste and corruption, and moreover we did not find an echo of these reports in the work of the three presidencies (Republic, Ministers, House of Representatives) in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region over a decade in the life of the initiative.

The word development was mentioned three times in the principles of the initiative, indicating its importance in the philosophy of the International Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries. It is a philosophy based on the fact that transparency is an essential entry point for the issue, and that the issue is an entry point for sustainable development and economic growth, a philosophy applied by many States through which significant advanced levels of development have been achieved.

Unfortunately, after 12 reports, we cannot say that the initiative has achieved all its objectives or succeeded in achieving the principle of transparency on the path of accountability and the fight against corruption. To be honest in assessing all efforts to succeed the initiative, we can say that the first step has been achieved and succeeded in putting the initiative on the path to achieving the goals, a necessary step towards sustainable development, economic growth and building a diversified national economy that will take us out of the disadvantages of rents.

We are all waiting for the birth of a new Iraqi government with a promising and productive government program rather than governments that have failed to achieve their tasks, governments that have facilitated borrowing from foreigners rather than productive work, and flooded the market with foreign goods instead of being cultivated or manufactured. A government cries out when oil prices fall and turns to easy debt solutions, raising taxes and manipulating employee salaries

, and forgets all this when oil prices rise back to fill the pockets of the corrupt with failed projects far from any development goal. And here it is true to recall a verse for the poet (Amrou bin Aday karb Bin Rabiaa) which says: You heard if you call live, but there isn't a life for which you call.

As an Iraqi Alliance for Transparency in Extractive Industries, comprising a group of activists and civil society organizations, we announce proposals on the importance of development and sustainable development, applying the principle of equitable distribution of wealth to all people and eliminating poverty and unemployment by diversifying the economy, revitalizing the private sector and investing as a solution to many of the current and future problems of our youth and people.

Achieving minimum well-being for citizens and achieving human dignity is an important part of our alliance's objectives, and stimulating and raising awareness of the importance of transparency for accountability, and monitoring of government performance must take priority in the work of the Coalition and other civil society organizations, while urging regulatory bodies to make the most of the initiative's reporting information.

Taking into account the slow progress with marginal realizations of the Iraqi initiative, it should develop itself, its reports, data and means towards monitoring the wrong government policies that have produced unacceptably varying poverty rates among Iraqi provinces, environmental and social monitoring of extractive industry cities, writing proposals and alerting ministries on accelerating development and sustainable development in Iraq.

We look forward to the new Parliament to adopt the issuance of the Transparency Initiative law for the extraction industries in Iraq and the obligation to apply it at all levels and take it into account in every contract, agreement, decision and law for public budgets, and to be obliged to the work of the new government and its ministries, bodies and local governments in all Iraqi provinces. The Constitutional Amendments Committee must also include the principle of transparency and accountability as a condition for any government activity, an important step in the fight against corruption and waste. The Constitution must require every ministry, body, regulatory institution and accounting and financial department in the Iraqi state to ensure the principle of transparency in its internal systems and practice in the implementation of its work.

In this context, the disclosure of oil and gas contracts in licensing rounds is also part of the principle of transparency, which is the right of the people to know how the government treats its natural wealth as the real owner of it, and the discussion of public budgets by the people before parliamentary approval is also right, and like any major contracts for various ministries such as electricity, industry and the investment authority is an application of transparency and the right of citizens.