WASHINGTON, April 17 (UPI) -- Two U.S. congressmen introduced a resolution that Iraq pay for all future reconstruction and security forces training or via loans from the United States.
Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Dave Reichert, R-Wash., introduced Tuesday a "Sense of the House of Representatives" resolution following last week's congressional hearings where Iraqi government spending was trashed.
"Funding for future Iraq reconstruction initiatives and training of Iraqi security forces should come from Iraqi revenues, and if the Government of Iraq cannot properly allocate and spend its revenues, any funding from the United States to Iraq for reconstruction and security training should be provided as a loan to Iraq," the two-page, non-binding resolution said.
"The Iraqi government must bear the cost for the reconstruction of their country, not the American taxpayer," Reichert said in a statement. "Iraq holds the third-largest oil reserve in the world, and Iraq must lead their nation to stability, peace and prosperity by paying for the reconstruction of their infrastructure."
"It is unacceptable that Iraqis are accumulating billions of dollars in accounts from oil revenues and the United States spends billions of dollars on Iraq's defense and economic development," said Shays.
According to a January report from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, "as of Dec. 31, 2007, the amounts contributed … for the reconstruction program totaled $113.945 billion, including $47.485 billion in U.S. appropriated funds, $50.634 billion in Iraqi funds, and $15.826 billion in international support for Iraq reconstruction."
Iraq oil production is just below 2.4 million barrels per day. Although oil prices have soared to record highs, Iraq oil fetches a slightly lower price, according to the U.S. State Department's Iraq Weekly Status Report. According to the April 9 report, oil sales have fetched $16.8 billion so far this year.
Iraq's government has consistently been short on spending even a modest percentage of its capital budget each year, as U.S. capacity-building efforts have faltered and the combination of poor security and corruption -- real and threat of accusation -- have kept the funds unspent.
When it happens the money is returned to the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad or the U.N. mandated fund for oil revenue at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Amid increasing cost to the United States more than five years after the war began, with energy prices increasing and the economy slumping, the Iraq spending problems led hearings last week.
U.S. House and Senate members called on U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to do more to get Baghdad moving on expenditures. Suggestions ranged from forcing Iraq to pay back past U.S. costs; pay for future U.S. costs; give the money to the United States to spend; and the Shays-Reichert loan idea.
Ben Lando, UPI Energy Editor