Black gold and its effect on the Kurdish work force
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in Kurdistan, as a result of the lack of an economic incentive to work, has become lax and inefficient and has been replaced by foreign labor that floods from neighboring regions like Syria which is now a good source of highly skilled and hardworking labor.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!