Saturday, 15 January 2011

No Relief from Democracy!


On November 21st 2010, the Associated Press reported that Iraq had run out of money to pay for widows' benefits, farm crops and other programs for the poor, leaving those dependent upon welfare support both frustrated and angry. "How can we pay for our daily needs and for our medicine, or to cover the needs of my children?” said one woman who stopped receiving government payments over four months ago.

While some members of Iraq's parliament demanded to know what happened to the estimated $1 billion, which had been allocated for welfare by the Finance Ministry, one MP stated that "There are thousands of widows who did not receive financial aid for months", while another legislator said farmers had not been paid for wheat and other crops they supplied to the government for at least five months.

The cause of the shortfall was unclear, but officials have been left worried that the deadlock over forming a new government since March's inconclusive election would ultimately lead to further funding shortages. Whatever the cause, the welfare cut-off has been felt among the average Iraqi, while MP‘s, have been collecting around $180,000 each in one of the world's most oil-rich nations.

Even though parliament has hardly met over the past several months, lawmakers have continued to pull in salaries and allowances that average around $22,500 a month — as well a one-time $90,000 stipend, along with perks like free nights in Baghdad's finest hotels. "They kept our millions in their pockets," said Mizher Abdul Majeed, 49, a farmer in the northern town of Mosul whose bank even refuses to cash the Iraqi Trade Ministry-issued checks that pay for his wheat.

But people have reacted with anger to the news on the 12/12/2010, that the Iraqi trade ministry, in association with the World Food Program (WFP), have sent over “4,000 tons of foodstuffs in relief aid” to the people of Pakistan.

An Iraqi Government official stated “The relief is a gift from the people of Iraq to the Republic of Pakistan, which is currently suffering from natural disasters.” Speaking to the Aswat al-Iraq news agency, Government spokesman Inmar al-Safi noted that an official ceremony was held on Monday 13th December, to mark the ships’ departure from Umm Qasr to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Brookings Institute estimates that over 40 percent of Iraq's professionals have fled since the U.S. invaded in 2003 and despite demand for their skills abroad, they often wind up in low-sector jobs because their certifications and experience aren't recognized, their English is often inadequate and their understanding of the host culture is sometimes limited.

"We hear these stories of the doctor who's a nanny or the lawyer who's driving a cab – it's a waste of human capital," said Tadd Wamester, manager of strategic initiatives for Upwardly Global, a New York-based nonprofit agency that works with Iraqi refugees but still there is no relief given to either the people who are bravely remaining inside, or the refugee’s who have been forced to flee, since Iraq became a “shining” example of Western democracy.

0 comments:

Post a Comment