Briefly, where did the money go? Cronyism and Kickbacks?
There is a ‘reconstruction gap’ in Iraq. According to the US Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR), ‘in the coming year, the amount of money needed by the Iraqi government to carry out the daily operations of its existing health, water, oil and electrical infrastructure, as well as to complete and sustain planned reconstruction projects, will outstrip the available revenue.’ The US General Accountability Office (GAO) told Congress that the Iraqis still need ‘additional training and preparation to operate and maintain the power plants, water and sewage treatment facilities, and healthcare centres . . . to ensure that the billions of dollars . . . already invested in Iraq’s infrastructure are not wasted’.
The sums are simple. Reconstruction will cost considerably more than originally imagined. The American administration has committed most of its funds. The Iraqis have neither the money nor the expertise to run the projects that have been completed. There’s little transparency or accountability. To judge from the audits published so far, at least $12 billion spent by the Americans and by the Iraqi interim and transitional governments has not been properly accounted for. Almost three years after the fall of Saddam, the GAO reports, ‘it is unclear how US efforts are helping the Iraqi people obtain clean water, reliable electricity or competent healthcare.’ The Bush administration has decided to provide no more reconstruction funds.