Kurdistan to have three polytechnic universities
Kurdish MP describes KRG’S 2013 educational projects as “strategic”
In an interview with the Kurdish Globe Ameena Zikri, member of the Education and Higher Education Committee at the Kurdistan Parliament on the majority Kurdistani Bloc, sheds light on the projects of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for the year of 2013.
Below is the interview with MP Zikri:
What significant projects will be implemented with this year’s investment budget?
Government has 2500 ongoing projects and 600 proposed projects, with a total budget of IQD 5,333,791,000,000 [approximately US$ 4.4 billion]. These have been distributed over the provinces based on requirements. In the education sector alone, there are 510 schools under construction, which is an important and strategic step in the educational sector in the region.
Government has reduced operational costs of its institutions by 1.96% and added this budget to the investment projects. Moreover, since the draft budget was
submitted to the parliament earlier, the duration of implementing projects has increased from 5 months to 9 months, which both reduces the number of delayed projects and increased the quality of the projects.
What is done in this year’s budget for reducing housing problem, and how this can be addressed?
KRG has used several methods to reduce housing issue. First is the Law number 7 of 2008 for constructing residential units for low income families, according to which the KRG built 1,372 units in 2011 and 5,000 units in 2012 via the ministry of reconstruction. Till now 20,884 units have been built all over the region.
The second method is the housing loan plan for which a budget is allocated every year. In 2012, for instance, the loan amount was IQD 20 million [approximately US$ 17 thousand] per family in the city centers and IQD 25 million [approximately IS$ 21 thousand] for the districts and sub districts.
Furthermore, government has built more than 8,520
units for the families of the martyrs. This is in addition to distributing more than 67,250 plots of land over other martyrs and Anfal families. Above all, there are currently 3,693 residential projects under construction by private sector through the Board of Investment.
There are a lot of complaints about the quality of health services. What has been done in this regard in the budget?
5.99% of the 2013’s operational budget has been allocated for health sector. Moreover, another 4.36% of investment budget also goes to 54 ongoing and 4 proposed health projects. The budget for the entire investment projects in the sector is IQD 232,417,000. This is in addition to the existence of 64 public and 52 private hospitals and 957 health clinics. Moreover, KRG has helped treat 4,340 patients with cancer, heart, brain and blood diseases. The total cost of these treatments has exceeded IQD 5.75 trillion (approximately USD 4.8 billion).
How many public job opportunities will the budget create? Can you explain the distribution of these over the ministries and the rationale behind that?
15 thousand people will be hired by the government this year. Moreover, economists estimate an equivalent of 90 thousand jobs has been created by the private sector construction projects. This is in addition to some 50 thousand jobs created by the activities of the Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism, according to the ministry’s statistics.
Electricity has been an issue, especially in the peak summer and winter seasons. Is this year’s budget expected to solve this issue?
In KRG the private sector produces 80% of the power supply, the rest being the responsibility of the public sector. The electricity sector consists of generation, transmission and control. KRG, which has more than 1 million electricity subscribers, has taken sig-
nificant steps in this direction. The current demand is around 3,488 MW, while this number was 1,457 in 2006. The government is planning to boost production to reach 6,000 MW by 2016.
In 2012 the government succeeded to supply 2,700 MW national power for 20 to 22 hours per day; which if compared with the 2008 rate of 484 MW, you see a huge boost. This is at a time when the government supplies Kirkuk with 200 MW as well.
What does the budget have for the education and higher education sector?
The government has allocated 3.16% of the total budget for this sector. This is in addition to 3,350 new staff to be hired for education sector. Moreover, the campaign for building national schools still continues, for which a budget of IQD 150 billion (US$125 million) was allocated in 2010 as well as IQD 100 billion for each of 2011 and 2012.
Only in 2012 177 schools were built and another 510 schools are planned for 2013. There are 460 continuous and proposed educational projects with a collective budget of around ID 255 billion.
Higher education, on the other hands, has 5.34% of the total budget in addition to 1200 new positions. All this is in addition to IQD 120 billion for the continuation of the Capacity Development Program, which has already benefitted 2,231 students. According to this program, the government allocates an amount of US$130,800 for the scholarship of each married master student, as well as allocating US$ 251,600 for a married PhD student for a full 4 year course. Above all, there are 22 public and private universities in the region, in addition to a decision to establish three new polytechnic universities for the job market.
A view of the private University of Kurdistan - Hawler.