Only 2 percent of U.S. aid authorized for Iraq has been spent, only 6 percent of reconstruction projects are underway
4 July 2004
WASHINGTON, July 4 (HalliburtonWatch.org) - Only 2 percent of the $18.4 billion in U.S. aid authorized for Iraq last October has been spent, the Washington Post reported. Citing a new report from the White House budget office, the Post said only $366 million of the aid approved by Congress last October has been spent as of June 22. In contrast, Iraqi authorities had authorized or spent $20 billion of its own money derived from oil exports since March 2003. The Baltimore Sun reported that U.S. authorities tapped the Iraqi money, rather than the American aid package, to avoid the stricter controls Congress demanded on the spending of U.S. tax dollars, especially after the Pentagon was accused of being lax on overcharges by firms like Halliburton. The White House report said none of the U.S. aid package has been spent on construction, health care, sanitation or water projects. Instead, the bulk of the money was spent on administrative needs. In addition, only $194 million of the $3.2 billion authorized for security and law enforcement has been spent. The U.S. promised to create 250,000 jobs in Iraq to help reduce the 30 percent unemployment rate, but only about 15,000 Iraqis have been hired under the U.S. aid package. The Post said U.S. officials blame security concerns and bureaucratic infighting between the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House for delays in the allocation of funds. Kidnappings have forced foreign reconstruction workers to leave Iraq and prevented U.S. contractors from rebuilding the country. The Post reported that "several western firms" with reconstruction contracts have left Iraq because of security concerns and that fewer than 140 (6 percent) of the 2,300 reconstruction projects that were to be funded with the U.S. aid package are now underway. U.S. officials say the White House report fails to give an accurate picture of reconstruction efforts since the money in the aid package will not be disbursed until reconstruction work is completed.