Defense Department official Monday discussed the ongoing work to improve Iraq’s business and economic stability during at press conference at the Combined Press Information Center here.

Paul Brinkley, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Business Transformation and director of the Task Force to Improve Business and Stability Operations in Iraq, spoke about the progress that has been made and what is in store for the future.

“We’ve been coming to Iraq now for several months, and for the past few months, bringing sizable groups of business executives from outside of Iraq into Iraq working with one objective, and that is to restore economic opportunity and create a sense of potential economic growth for the Iraqi people,” Brinkley said.

Representatives from several dozen American and international businesses will be engaging both business communities and Iraqi officials in an effort to get an understanding of the situation here to prepare for the work ahead.

“In an effort to connect the Iraqi economy to the global economy to drive demand and opportunity to Iraqi business and to create a sense of economic hope and prosperity,” Brinkley said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will also try to revitalize the agricultural industry which has a huge role in Iraq’s economy.

“We have a stellar group of agricultural and agribusiness representatives from major American universities and from international businesses who are here and are going to be working to ensure that we synchronize our industry revitalization efforts with the agriculture sector, which is obviously a major part of the overall Iraqi economy,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley states that the economic efforts will help the Fardh Al-Qanoon plan and not work against it.

“We’re working in collaboration with our commands as the Fardh Al-Qanoon unfolds to ensure that we are working to revitalize industry in areas as security is restored,” Brinkley said.

Problems plague some factories due to many issues but a majority of them can be easily identified and dealt with.

“In most case, it requires a small amount of investment,” Brinkley said. “We’re working with the government of Iraq to get those investments made to deal with, in some cases, maintenance and spare parts.”

Others, such as the cement and phosphate industries in Al Anbar require a larger and more complicated approach.

“They require huge amounts of steady, continual electrical power,” Brinkley said. “We’re working closely with the minister of electricity and our own reconstruction organizations to identify the most rapid path to power restoration which will enable the re-employment of people in the Al Anbar region.”

The amount of jobs that the reconstruction would generate for the Iraqi population would be astronomical.

The official statistics go as high as 500,000 jobs, Brinkley said.

Brinkley has a positive outlook on how this will affect the economy as a whole.

“The optimism we have is that as we restore these industrial operations, this will create immediate uplift to other parts of the economy,” Brinkley said.

If there were any concern as to how much money the Iraqi government is willing to spend to fix their fledgling economy, Brinkley is quick to reassure.

“I know 10 billion dollars has been set aside by the Iraqi government,” he said.

The road ahead is difficult, but Brinkley and his team are working together to bring about a better tomorrow.

“The next several months are key to our ability to demonstrate to the Iraqi people a sense of optimism and to give them hope in a brighter future,” Brinkley said. “I think this year that’s going to be a huge amount of our energy dedicated to this.”

Source: New Blaze