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Six in Ten Iraqis Unemployed, but U. S. Subcontractors Hire Cheap Migrant Laborers
(The Daily MISLeader, October 16, 2003)
Even though seven million Iraqis are unemployed, U.S. sub-contractors are rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure with cheap migrant labor from South Asia. The use of Asian laborers is at odds with President Bush's emphasis on the importance of Iraqis taking on the job themselves. . . . Bush has said the key to "rebuilding a democratic and prosperous Iraq is the Iraqi people themselves." Paul Bremer, the Bush appointee overseeing post-war Iraq, likewise has talked of the need to turn around the country's 60 percent unemployment rate and "to fix a very sick economy." . . . However, the head of the Iraqi Jobless Association, Kasem Hadi, is critical of the Bush Administration's lack of progress. "Following four rounds of talks with [Bremer's] representatives, we made no progress regarding the unemployment crisis," Hadi says. . . . Meanwhile, U.S. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, one of Bremer's colleagues, has raised questions about the reliability of foreign workers. "You find [them] in out-of-the-way corners taking 15 minute naps," she notes. . . . At the same time, officials of the Iraqi Governing Council are concerned that large American contractors, including Halliburton and Bechtel, may be inflating the cost of the reconstruction projects. The Iraqi governors told members of the U.S. Congress that Iraqi companies could be doing the work at 10 percent of the cost.

posted by Lorenzo 11:08 AM

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