Iraq has spent more than $700 bn oil wealth

Iraq has spent more than $700 bn oil wealth since 2005
2 min read
31 July, 2018
Between 2005 and 2017, Iraq's finance ministry has taken in $706.23 billion dollars in foreign exchange from oil, the majority of which has been spent.
Iraq said it spent 99.5 percent of wealth it made from oil [Getty]

Iraq has raised more than $700 billion from oil since 2005, but almost the entire amount has been spent, the central bank announced on Tuesday.

"Between 2005 and 2017, the finance ministry has taken in $706.23 billion dollars in foreign exchange" from oil, it said in a statement.

"A total of $703.11 billion, or 99.5 percent of the amount, has been spent," it added.

Social grievances have boiled over in a series of protests since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State group last December, marking an end to decades of conflict in Iraq.

The unrest, which was sparked by Iraq's chronic power shortages, began in the oil-rich southern Basra province and spread to other provinces, including the capital Baghdad.

The shortages have forced Iraqis to buy generators from private entrepreneurs. 

Fourteen people have been killed in clashes between security forces and demonstrators, frustrated over the lack of basic services in what has been ranked one of the world's most corrupt countries.

Despite Iraq's government dedicating a total of $40 billion to rebuild the country's power network since 2003, many households continue to get only a few hours of electricity a day.

It is widely believed that large portions of the funds were embezzled, with at least two previous electricity ministers having been accused of corruption, including over fake contracts worth millions of dollars.

Iraq has been gripped by weeks of protests and political tensions as the country awaits the results of a partial recount of May 12 elections. At the same time, the country's political factions are jostling to cobble together a coalition.

Meanwhile, the equivalent of $227 billion in public funds in Iraq, OPEC's second largest crude exporter after Saudi Arabia, has gone missing through shell companies, according to parliament.