Iraqis cheer Merril Lynch’s economic growth estimates for their country

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By Shaymaa Adel

Azzaman, December 8, 2012

Iraqis of different walks of life have welcomed a report by an American bank that their country will see the fastest growth in the world this year and in 2013.

The bank, Merrill Lynch, one of the world’s leading financial management and advisory companies, has said in a recent report that Iraq was to record 10.5% increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for two successive years with the potential to preserve one of the world’s highest growth rates in the years to 2017.

Local newspapers appeared with front page headlines, saying that Iraq has surpassed China as the world’s fastest growing economy, as the bank estimated a growth rate of 7.7% for China for this year and the upcoming one.

“We are at a crossroads,” declared Kamal al-Basri, head of the state-run Institute for Economic Reform. “This is the time to urge the government to adopt policies for decisive solutions to upgrade the country’s infrastructure.”

The high growth rate, unseen in Iraq’s history, is mainly attributed to substantial hikes in oil exports and earnings. Basri said the government was required to turn oil earnings into investment and extend a helping hand to the private sector through what he described as “strategic partnership.”

The report by the American bank would not have come at a better time for the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki who is at odds with the Kurds in the north over oil development and territorial claims.

But the news has been received with glee and many attribute it to the successes achieved by the oil ministry in propelling oil output to 3.3 million barrels a day.

With relative tranquility reigns across the country, local newspapesr have been calling for more transparency and an all-out war on corruption so that the whole country, mainly low-income groups, will reap the benefits of economic growth.