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Iraq banks on private sector for post-IS reconstruction

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12th-Feb-2018       
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AFP, Baghdad :
Months after declaring victory over jihadists, war-battered Iraq hopes to attract billions of dollars from private investors as well as donors to fund its reconstruction.
Baghdad is looking to drum up funds at a reconstruction conference in neighbouring Kuwait from February 12 to 14 after announcing the defeat of the Islamic State group at the end of last year.
The country is still reeling from the rise of IS and the punishing fightback it took to crush the jihadists, with swathes of its territory in ruins and millions of people displaced.
Authorities in the resource-rich nation say there has been a heavy toll on oil, electricity and manufacturing infrastructure, as well as basic services such as water and sanitation.
Iraq needs to raise $100 billion to rebuild, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said, after the fight against IS and decades of sanctions and war.
"It's a huge amount of money. We know we cannot provide it through our own budget," he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month.
"That's why we now resorted to investment," he said.
Iraq sits on some of the world's largest crude reserves, which Baghdad puts at 153 billion barrels, but the war against IS and a slump in world prices have diminished its oil revenues.
The Kuwait conference's second day will be devoted to the private sector's role in rebuilding Iraq, with more than 2,000 companies and businessmen due to attend, according to the Gulf country.
International organisations are to speak on the first day, while attending donor countries are expected to make announcements on the third.
The US State Department has said that rather than "direct contributions", Washington has "focused on the private sector. It has teamed up with the US Chamber of Commerce to organise a delegation of over 150 American companies to travel to Kuwait" for the conference.

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