Friday, June 23, 2006

Kurdistan/Kurdish Iraq

Dahuk, 22 June (AKI - Source IRIN) - A sharp increase in house rents is hurting people in Iraq's northern Dahuk governorate. according to local officials. Following a large inflow of internally displaced people (IDPs) from other volatile regions of the country, there has been a shortage of housing. This has prompted landlords to cash in - leaving many with no choice but to stay in cramped and poor unhygienic conditions.

"One of the consequences of this large number of IDPs to Dahuk, within a short period of time, has been the dramatic increase in rent and house prices," Gorgees Shlemon, the acting Governor of Dahuk told IRIN.

"This has negatively affected people’s economic conditions,” he added.


It's true there are internally displaced people, but I think one of the interesting aspects of this report is the very low number who are living outside of regular housing. the other aspect is that the security and economic boom of Kurdish Iraq (Kurdistan) has also contributed to an influx of people who are not necessarily refugees. Further, whenever salaries rise and businesses begin to flurish, the price of land, houses and rent invariably goes up. It is basic supply and demand economics.

However, I would keep an eye on this situation. If Kurdish Iraq experiences a continually quadrupling inflation rate, it could have negative effect on it's economic future.

Another interesting point is that I read statements from other Kurdish officials that seemed to welcome the refugees and actually invite them in as part of the necessary booming work force that was needed to continue feeding the economic growth. However, this could have been simple politics since I am not aware of the unemployment rate v. job growth in Kurdistan.

I recommend also reading

Kurdistan: Birth of a Nation?

A Tale of Two Cities
In Erbil, Dream Land’s director said, “We are looking to hire more people, especially those with technical skills. There is no unemployment to speak of in Iraqi Kurdistan. Around three quarters of the work force comes from other areas of the country, such as central and southern Iraq. Whereas the average salary of a construction worker in Baghdad is 15 thousand Dinars[1400 dinars = $1.00; this is about $12/day), they can make up to 20 dollars a day in Kurdistan, more than a fourfold increase.”

Kurdish Banks Slowly Win Trust

A new bank in Iraqi Kurdistan is trying to build confidence in the faltering banking system by bringing cash machines and wire transfer systems to the city of Erbil.

Kurdish officials are trying to promote their region to investors as a safer alternative to Baghdad, but a dearth of banks that can be trusted even for money transfers has been a frustration for residents and businesspeople.

A 2004 report by the government-run Kurdistan Corporation said that business executives were "unanimous that the lack of banking facilities is the biggest impediment to economic growth".

Two years on, however, Kurdistan’s banking system is growing, albeit slowly.

Brotherly Embrace
Some Shia politicians have already demanded for the south the same broad powers that the Kurds now have in the north, including an independent parliament, ministries and army. This is provoking much heat. The Kurds, after all, are suspected of aiming at secession. Iraq's Sunni Arabs fear that if the Shias ape the Kurdish model by establishing a “Shiastan” in the south, it could leave the oil-poor Sunnis alone with their palm trees and sand.

Kurdistan Open for Business

The wonder of Kurdistan

A glance out of the window of the Director General for Finance of the Kurdish regional government shows how far the future of Kurdistan has already flourished: around the Ministry of Finance, as in many places in the city, buildings are shooting up. Apartment buildings, offices, warehouses, it looks as if everywhere in Erbil is under construction.

Money, that is a key word today in the northern part of Iraq. You are never allowed to call it Northern Iraq because that offends every Kurd. To the Kurds the region is Kurdistan, liberated Kurdistan, as most residents call it today. Liberated from Saddam Hussein and years of oppression. Liberated from the religious constraints of the Islamists and seemingly ready for a new future that goes much further than the older generation can even imagine. [snip]

The demand for home ownership and the wish for improvement in the infrastructure are so great that the cement factory in front of the gates of Suleimaniyah has been put back in operation.

The clearest sign of the new boom in Kurdistan is the increase in salaries. Before the fall of Saddam Hussein a white collar worker earned 22,000 Iraqi dinar per month (around $148)--today 158,000 [math..that is a little over $1000/month], according to the Ministry of Finance. A clear sign of the upswing is the fact that Kurds have meanwhile become too expensive for some jobs. On the side of the road between Erbil and Suleimaniyah you discover tents with Iraqi and Chinese flags in honour of guest workers from China. Thirty-eight men from Beijing who speak neither English nor Kurdish nor Arabic are widening Kurdistan’s highway network. They sleep at night on cots in tents on the edge of the construction site. In Suleimaniyah you find more guest workers from their own country.

Iraqis from Tikrit or Baghdad are moving to the north because there is work here and a better security situation.

War Weary Arabs Go North
Arabs began turning up at the Kurdish tourist resorts after the overthrow of the Saddam, and their numbers have been steadily increasing.

The influx of Arabs has been a boon for the region, but some local Kurds complain their arrival has driven up prices.

Three years ago, one night in a Dukan holiday cabin cost 20-25 US dollars. It’s now more than double that. And the price of a small bottle of spring water can treble to 45 cents in the summer months.

The tourist companies, however, say they've rarely had it so good.

“Arabs are the best source of income for us,” said Kamal Hameed, chief executive of Daban Cabins on lake Dukan. Before the fall of the regime, he had 20 chalets and now has four times as many, increasing his monthly profits from 5000 to 30,000 dollars.

Poultry Industry Picks Up

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