Black gold and its effect on the Kur­dish work force

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Swara Kadir

Does hav­ing oil guar­an­tee a grow­ing econ­omy with a pro­duc­tive work­force? Is hav­ing this re­source a curse or a bless­ing for Kur­dis­tan? Such ques­tions should be asked all the time by Kur­dish econ­o­mists and pol­icy mak­ers. Kur­dis­tan prior to the fall of Sad­dam in 2003 was a poor re­gion with lit­tle or no re­sources de­pen­dent on hand­outs from the cen­tral govern­ment, the lit­tle na­tional in­come came mainly from the taxes and tar­iffs levied at the borders of Ibrahim Khalil. Other than that there was very lit­tle in terms of rev­enue gen­er­at­ing re­sources in the re­gion. How­ever, the av­er­age Kur­dish man was very ea­ger to work and earn a livin­ing, the prospect was very sim­ple; work or stay hun­gry! Kur­dis­tan post Sad­dam is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent pic­ture, with po­lit­i­cal room for ma­neu­ver and the es­tab­lish­ment of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment, oil ex­plo­ration be­gan! The ar­rival of early oil com­pa­nies like the Dan­ish DNO and the Turk­ish Genel en­ergy, spelt a new eco­nomic era in Kur­dish his­tory, in comes black gold and out goes na­tional poverty! How­ever the av­er­age Kur­dish Joe is now earn­ing easy money and is prob­a­bly the re­cip­i­ent of a govern­ment wage of one sort or an­other that comes from the rev­enue of black gold. There are ad­di­tional forms of gov­ern­men­tal fi­nan­cial sup­port for the av­er­age cit­i­zen, in­clud­ing the free dis­tri­bu­tion of land plots to peo­ple, the pro­vi­sion of hous­ing and project loans. The work­force in Kur­dis­tan, as a re­sult of the lack of an eco­nomic in­cen­tive to work, has be­come lax and in­ef­fi­cient and has been re­placed by for­eign la­bor that floods from neigh­bor­ing re­gions like Syria which is now a good source of highly skilled and hard­work­ing la­bor. Com­pa­nies in Kur­dis­tan are quick to seek al­ter­na­tives for em­ploy­ees out­side of the re­gion. Cur­rently there is no leg­is­la­tion against the im­port of for­eign la­bor ex­cept in the per­sonal house maid and jan­i­tor sec­tor, where there are now some lim­i­ta­tions set. To build a sus­tain­able Kur­dish econ­omy, Kur­dis­tan needs an ef­fi­cient Kur­dish work­force that is pro­vided with the right in­cen­tives and is mo­ti­vated to work. Maybe one way is to switch to the oil free sec­tors of agri­cul­ture and tourism which has a lot of eco­nomic po­ten­tial that may ri­val oil!

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