Kurdistan’s Economy and its Shortfalls

By Dr. Bayad Jamal Ali:

Improvements have occurred in Kurdistan`s economy in the past decade although ones mostly not planned but rather due to the Kurdistan`s government access to the Iraqi budget that has helped finance the operating and investment costs. Yet, with the first challenge that the region faced, its economy couldn’t stand this and, one by one, the impact of the shortcomings started to appear on the government, market, and every individual in the region.

There is no doubt that Kurdistan has the main resources (energy, capital, labor, knowledge) that any country needs to develop its economy, politics, society, and education. The availability of these resources, that many countries in the world lack, gives Kurdistan an impressive advantage if utilized correctly. Access to cheap energy is abundant; access to capital has been rather easy and could have overcome the current liquidity and lack of money issue if the previous government had thought of a contingency plan for such scenarios as are faced by the region currently. Moreover, labor is available and also suffering because of the lack of job opportunities, and the slow development of the private sector cannot handle the size of the workforce. In addition, knowledge has increased in developing human resources, but there is still a long way to go. If there is a true economic plan to take advantage of the different resources the country owns, consequently, with the growth of the private sector, the rewards will be higher which will create the necessary motivation to increase the workforce’s productivity, and this is how capitalism works.

The more we believe that investing in our human resources is crucial, the more we will see a steady economic growth in Kurdistan`s economy and living standards. In order to understand what needs to be done we need to take the following actions:

  • First, understand the current reality of the economy, politics, and education level of the people; any investment should have a short term and long term goal that works not only for this generation but also for future generations.
  • Second, diagnose the obstacles and create the will to change for the better through a comprehensive observation of what issues are creating frustration and keeping us from moving forward.
  • Third, craft a strategy that can be applicable with the reality of these issues according to
    the mentality of the society so it can be welcomed and receive cooperation. Furthermore, there will be no progress without transparency, rule of law, institutionalization of government, equality, and upgrading healthcare as well as education levels.

Exchanging ideas, and encouraging dialog between the different parts of society will enhance the sense of unity and foster the culture of accepting the opposite opinion; this will result in a more thorough understanding on how to tackle the obstacles, how to increase productivity, how to address future challenges, and how to find a mechanism to deal with crises.

In the past century Kurdistan was always under the continuous oppression of the different Iraqi regimes, and in the nineties it was under a double embargo and never had the chance to improve itself; however, the past decade has been a golden opportunity to gain more economic independence and show the international community that a success story could be made in the troubled Middle East region. As a result, there is a vital need to support and activate the private sector and protect it from corruption, especially in the healthcare and education sectors, to provide the services that the government may not be able to do by itself. Subsidies should not only be for foreign investments, but also for local investments, giving business people the incentive to stay within the region, and allocating resources to create more job opportunities in the private sector to discourage our youths from immigration.

Dr. Bayad Jamal Ali is an academic and businessman; currently he is the chief executive officer of the Bayad Group and Samsung Electronics in Iraq, and a Member of the Board of Trustees in Komar University of Science and technology. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from the Paris School of Business and other academic degrees from the London Business School and the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani.


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