Jun 3 2012
Azzaman, May 3, 2011
The once restive province of Anbar has earned $144 million from taxes imposed on the traffic of goods passing through border points within its administrative frontiers with neighboring Jordan and Syria.
The province, which saw some of the worst violence in the aftermath of the 2003-U.S. invasion, is desperately in need of additional funds for reconstruction.
For long it was the bastion of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda and the scourge of U.S. invasion troops. Al-Qaeda’s influence waned when Anbar tribes joint forces to flush out terrorists among their ranks.
Anbar’s provincial council has received the news with glee.
“The government has transferred the sum to the province’s exchequer. The sum is part of royalties gathered from taxes at the border points of Waleed with Syria and Treibeel with Jordan,” said the council’s head Saadoun Shaalan.
Shaalan said the provincial authorities will not touch the money until an investment plan is drawn on how to improve the province’s infrastructure.
“We are not using this money before we have a plan in place on how to spend it on infrastructure and other projects,” Shaalan said.
As part of a decentralization plan, the government encourages provinces to provide for own financing. Besides taxes on border crossings, they have special rights to impose taxes. Oil producing provinces collect $1 from each barrel of oil they produce.
Anbar produces no oil but initial explorations indicate that the province, the largest in Iraq, sits on massive oil and gas reserves.
The main beneficiaries of Iraq’s so-called petro-dollar plan are the oil-rich provinces of Basra and Kirkuk.