The Pri­or­ity is to achieve self-suf­fi­ciency within the new Fed­eral Iraq

An In­ter­view with Nechir­van Barzani:

The Kurdish Globe - - NATIONAL -

What is your di­rec­tion for Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and are how are you ap­proach­ing the domestic and for­eign chal­lenges?

We are guided by the ex­pe­ri­ences of other coun­tries in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to safe­guard a pros­per­ous fu­ture for the peo­ple of our re­gion. It is a chal­lenge and we have made great progress over the past two decades, but there re­mains much to be done.

Our domestic chal­lenges change over time as our peo­ple de­mand more ser­vices and ac­tion from their government. A few years ago, ba­sic ser­vices such as elec­tric­ity and water re­mained as one of the key ar­eas of con­cern and need for our peo­ple. To­day is­sues such as trans­parency re­main a key as­pect for our peo­ple, and we are work­ing with var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­sti­tu­tions both in­ter­nally and abroad to adopt the nec­es­sary leg­is­la­tion to com­bat is­sues such as cor­rup­tion. Hav- ing said that, I do be­lieve our peo­ple are sup­port­ive of our pro­grams and ap­pre­ci­ate that such ef­forts take time.

Since the found­ing of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, we have tried to reach out to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to en­sure there is gen­eral un­der­stand­ing about the dif­fer­ences be­tween our re­gion and the rest of the coun­try. This re­mains an­other key as­pect of our pol­icy and ob­jec­tives with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

What are the big­gest pri­or­i­ties for domestic re­form in other words what are your main pri­or­i­ties (where would you like to see Kur­dis­tan Re­gion)?

Achiev­ing self-suf­fi­ciency within the new fed­eral Iraq is a key pri­or­ity for our government. Over the past sev­eral years, we have been able to build an oil/gas in­dus­try for the bet­ter­ment of the coun­try as a whole. To­day, the success of our oil/gas poli­cies and ap­proach have al­lowed us to ex­port up to 250,000 bpd, pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary funds to de­velop other key in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture and health sec­tors.

Our re­gion used to be very rich in agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, in fact it was more of­ten re­ferred to as the food bas­ket for the coun­try. To­day, the re­gion im­ports most of its pro­duce de­spite the fact that there are lo­cal pro­duce avail­able; our re­gion still lacks the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise about tak­ing th­ese prod­ucts to the mar­ket. Over the next sev­eral years, our government will be sup­port­ing mea­sures to at­tract much-needed at­ten­tion and in­vest­ment to th­ese ar­eas.

Our government has es­tab­lished an in­vest­ment board since 2006 as a medium for in­vestors to ap­proach for in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, which has been largely suc­cess­ful – at­tract­ing over $22 bil­lion since its found­ing. Our pol­icy is to con­tinue the adop­tion of the key leg­is­la­tion that will pro­mote other sec­tors and at­tract fur­ther in­vest­ments.

A suc­cess­ful and pros­per­ous Kur­dis­tan will un­doubt­edly help de­velop the rest of the coun­try; we want to share our ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge to en­sure the well-be­ing of the coun­try as a whole.

What is planned for Kur­dis­tan Re­gion in terms of at­tract­ing in­vest­ments? What is the gov­ern­men­tal pol­icy?

The Kur­dis­tan In­vest­ment Law is well-known for its friendly in­cen­tives to in­vestors, which has played a sub­stan­tial role in at­tract­ing in­vest­ments. Our government has es­tab­lished an in­vest­ment board since 2006 as a medium for in­vestors to ap­proach for in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, which has been largely suc­cess­ful – at­tract­ing over $22 bil­lion since its found­ing.

Our pol­icy is to con­tinue the adop­tion of the key leg­is­la­tion that will pro­mote other sec­tors and at­tract fur­ther in­vest­ments. For in­stance, the success of the oil/gas in­dus­try was largely due to the Kur­dis­tan Par­lia­ment adopt­ing an oil and gas law that was in line with the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion – al­low­ing us to at­tract some of the world's largest oil and gas com­pa­nies. In fact, many pres­ti­gious oil and gas com­pa­nies are now openly aban­don­ing their proven oil fields in the south of the coun­try in or­der to pur­sue ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­i­ties in Kur­dis­tan – an­other tes­ta­ment of the success of our pol­icy. We want to con­tinue th­ese ef­forts by pro­mot­ing other leg­is­la­tion for min­ing, agri­cul­tural and health in­dus­tries.

The ex­pe­ri­ence in Iraq has taught us to de­volve pow­ers to the peo­ple and more away from cen­tral­iza­tion. An­other rea­son for the con­tin­ued success we are mak­ing in Kur­dis­tan is due to our poli­cies of work­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor as it has proved to de­liver bet­ter and more mean­ing­ful ser­vices to our peo­ple. An ex­am­ple of this success story is in the elec­tric­ity sec­tor; we spent about $1.5 bil­lion to achieve al­most 24-hours elec­tric­ity in a very short pe­riod of time, while the rest of the coun­try has spent tens of bil­lions and still suf­fers from 4-6 hours of elec­tric­ity per day.

A key mes­sage that we con­vey to in­vestors is that they can use Kur­dis­tan as a plat­form for the rest of the coun­try. An in­vest­ment into this re­gion is an in­vest­ment for all of Iraq.

What should be the role played by Kur­dis­tan Re­gion on the in­ter­na­tional scene?

Af­ter decades of iso­la­tion and sanc­tions, we want to be part of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Our peo­ple are very friendly and wel­com­ing, and we want to share our cul­ture and ex­pe­ri­ence with other friends and al­lies.

The KRG has 14 rep­re­sen­ta­tions across the world that are used to pro­mote po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural ties be­tween Kur­dis­tan and the world at large, and we are wel­comed in many cap­i­tals as heads of states. We will con­tinue this ex­pe­ri­ence and help con­trib­ute to the rest of the coun­try so long as we are part of a fed­eral, demo­cratic and con­sti­tu­tional Iraq.

Our rep­re­sen­ta­tions are also play­ing a key role in en­sur­ing that the world un­der­stands and rec­og­nizes the dif­fi­cul­ties that we have had to en­dure dur­ing our painful his­tory; this recog­ni­tion will play an im­por­tant and sym­bolic role to pre­vent such crimes oc­cur­ring again.

Prime Min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani.

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