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Get house in order, World Bank tells Iraq

One of the largest economies in the Middle East under twin threats from oil and terrorism.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 28, 2016 at 7:52 AM
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BAGHDAD, March 28 (UPI) -- Faced with threats from terrorism and low oil prices, the world community is ready to help, but Iraqis make take initiatives, the U.N. secretary-general said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the heads of the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank in expressing solidarity with Iraqi leaders struggling to ensure financial and national stability. From Baghdad, the secretary-general said he was calling on regional and international partners to help support a threatened Iraq, though the Iraqis themselves needed to take responsibility to resolve crises.

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"These reforms must include measures to empower women and young people, and to bring [about] greater social cohesion," Ban said in a statement.

Iraq's $200 billion economy is one of the largest in the Middle East, though several decades of conflict have taken on a toll on state infrastructure, while the recent collapse in crude oil prices has strained its financial coffers.

The International Monetary Fund more recently warned Iraq is facing twin economic shocks in the form of the national security threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group and the steep decline in crude oil prices.

Conflict, the IMF warned, was hurting Iraq's non-oil economy because of trade disruptions, a loss of investor confidence and the destruction of infrastructure.

The World Bank, meanwhile, said Iraq "needs to put its economic house in order" by reforming state-owned enterprises, enacting more even distribution of oil revenues and addressing chronic shortages of electricity.

"Through demonstrating a commitment to such real changes, we hope Iraq can find the support it seeks to relieve its immense fiscal pressures in the light of significantly reduced oil prices," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.

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