Are im­mi­grants help­ing or hin­der­ing the Kur­dish econ­omy!

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Swara Kadir

For an econ­omy to suc­ceed it seems there are two es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents; na­tional re­sources and a skilled work­force. Right now, at the risk of over sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, Kur­dis­tan has the oil but doesn't have man power needed. Part of the so­lu­tion seems to have dropped from the sky; the in­flux of lo­cal and out­side im­mi­grants. One is sur­prised at how fre­quently you meet a for­eign worker be it when you go to a shop, visit a con­struc­tion site (man­ual la­bor­ers and en­gi­neers), or at a ho­tel! The scarcity of good labour lo­cally has been com­pen­sated for by Kur­dis­tan's neigh­bors. Due to the the lack of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity in Iraq, and the de­lib­er­ate lack of ed­u­ca­tion dur­ing the Sad­dam regime, there has al­ways been a short­age of skilled work­ers in Kur­dis­tan. As luck would have it, we now have an abun­dance of skilled and un­skilled labour who have im­mi­grated from neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. The most nu­mer­ous labour im­mi­gra­tions, have come from cen­tral and south­ern Iraq, and Syria due to se­cu­rity and un­em­ploy­ment prob­lems. In Iran it's more due to lack of work op­por­tu­ni­ties than any­thing else. This has come at a time when the qual­ity of lo­cal labour, es­pe­cially un­skilled labour, has dropped down. One of the pri­mary rea­sons is the pour­ing in of oil rev­enues in the form of gov­ern­ment wages for the peo­ple which has given la­bor­ers ad­di­tional in­come and so less in­cen­tive to work. The sit­u­a­tion has ac­cu­mu­lated to a de­gree which has af­fected na­tional pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously push­ing la­bor costs up and low­er­ing work stan­dards. What ef­fect did this in­flux of for­eign­ers have? Ini­tially there was a prob­lem ab­sorb­ing the large num­ber of im­mi­grants es­ti­mated in hun­dreds of thou­sands. Ac­com­mo­da­tion and ser­vice costs has shot up. De­mo­graphic changes have been in­evitable and long term so­cioe­co­nomic ef­fects are al­ready tak­ing place. How­ever apart from the eco­nomic ben­e­fits there has also been cul­tural and so­cial ben­e­fits. Prior to the in­flux of for­eign­ers, which co­in­cided with the ex­port of Kur­dish oil, Kur­dis­tan had rel­a­tively few for­eign­ers and lit­tle aware­ness of what non Kur­dish peo­ple are like. The rapid rate of eco­nomic change that Kur­dis­tan is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is re­mark­able and ex­cit­ing how­ever the down­side of this is the petrodol­lar is like lot­tery money which is de­priv­ing the lot­tery win­ner of the in­cen­tive to work and is de­pend­ing on oth­ers to do the es­sen­tial works and the worker may ul­ti­mately be indis­pens­able for the lot­tery win­ner to sur­vive.

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