Senate report: Iraq economy improving

Dec. 7, 2005 at 6:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Thursday in a new report that Iraq's economy appears to be stabilizing.

However, major work remains to be done, particularly with Iraq's vast oil reserves, the country's primary source of income. The United States purposefully avoided investing in the oil export sector to the detriment of Iraq's reconstruction.

"In order not to look as if we had designs on Iraqi oil, the United States has foregone meaningful investment in the one area that would have made the biggest difference, namely Iraq's oil-exporting infrastructure," the study states.

According to the report, Iraq oil subsidies for consumer-grade gasoline are to be reduced this month. The price will go from 5 cents a gallon to 13 cents. However, in 2006 the subsidy is expected to be eliminated entirely, causing the price to rise to $1.82 a gallon, forcing Iraqis to pay market prices for the first time ever.

The committee chairman called on Congress last week to "elevate" its debate about the Iraq war.

"Some debate that has occurred both inside and outside of Congress has not been well informed or has failed to acknowledge the complexities that we face as we try to achieve stability in Iraq," wrote Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in a letter to his colleagues Dec. 2.

"Congress, like the president, must speak with credibility about Iraq. Public confidence in our decision-making depends on the rigorousness of our research on Iraq and our understanding of the nuances of the policy choices before us. Even as we urge administration officials to be forthcoming with accurate and complete information on Iraq, we have an obligation to absorb the information they provide and seek out as many other knowledgeable sources as possible," he wrote.

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