INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Project Money Jump-Starts Prdcs in Maysan and Dhi Qar

Published: Thu 22 Dec 2005 11:01 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS BASRAH 000154
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EAID IZ UN
SUBJECT: PROJECT MONEY JUMP-STARTS PRDCS IN MAYSAN AND DHI QAR
REF: BASRAH 139, BASRAH 150
1. Summary: The Provincial Reconstruction and Development
Committees (PRDC) in Maysan and Dhi Qar provinces met on
December 19 and 20. Demonstrations over fuel price increases in
both provinces threatened to disrupt the meetings, but
Provincial Council members prevailed in making the meeting take
place. The approval of $7.9 and $7 million respectively in
projects for the two provinces was well received. This influx
of project money has jump-started the stalled PRDC process in
these two southern provinces (reftel A). End Summary.
Maysan PRDC Meeting, December 19
--------------------------------------------- ---------------
2. On December 19, REO PolOff and IRMO attended the Maysan PRDC
meeting in Al-Amarah. Originally planned to take place in the
Pink Palace in town, the meeting had to be relocated to Camp Abu
Naji when a demonstration of about 100 people in front of the
Pink Palace over fuel price increases forced the military convoy
transporting the international donors to turn back. Long lines
of cars and trucks waiting at fuel stations were evident as the
convoy made its way through town and back to the camp. Despite
the obstacles, several members of the Maysan Provincial Council
turned up at Camp Abu Naji so that the PRDC meeting could take
place. Also in attendance were representatives from USAID, Army
Corps of Engineers, the UN, DFID, and British officers from Camp
Abu Naji.
3. The Maysan Provincial Council members received the IRMO's
announcement of $7.9 million USD for roads, electricity, and
water projects with satisfaction. REO IRMO explained that the
rest of the $10 million was being kept in a contingency fund to
cover unexpected costs. If any money remained after the
projects were completed, this money would be turned over again
to the PRDC for use in other prioritized projects. In order to
begin project implementation, the Maysan Provincial Council
members agreed to approach the rest of the PRDC members to
secure the necessary verification letter on proceeding with the
projects selected by the National Embassy Team (NET) for
funding.
4. British officers encouraged the Maysan PRDC members to
develop a public outreach strategy to communicate projects and
their benefits to the public. Maysan officials countered that
this was already being done to some degree by word-of-mouth, and
that they were reluctant to advertise projects that were not yet
completed because they did not want to put themselves in the
potential embarrassing position of not being able to deliver on
their promises. Nevertheless, at the end of the meeting, the
Maysan officials agreed to begin developing ways to communicate
project benefits to the public.
Dhi Qar PRDC Meeting, December 20
--------------------------------------------- ----------------
5. On December 20, REO PolOff and IRMO attended the Dhi Qar
PRDC meeting in Nasiriyah at the Nasiriyah power plant. Many
PRDC members were unable to attend the meeting because fuel
demonstrations in town blocked roads, making transportation to
the power plant difficult. In addition, many Provincial Council
members were engaged in an emergency session to deal with the
political unrest caused by the fuel price increases. Provincial
Council Reconstruction Chairman Engineer Thajeel Kareem Ubeed
attended and chaired the meeting. Also in attendance were
representatives from USAID, Army Corps of Engineers, the UN,
DFID, and Italian officials from Camp Mittica.
6. REO IRMO confirmed Ambassador Khalilzad's December 12
announcement that $7 million USD had been approved by the NET
(reftel B) for four roads and one electricity project. Engineer
Thajeel said that he would like to switch out one of the
approved projects for one on the unapproved list because the
project had been promised to the people in that area. IRMO
responded that switching out projects was possible and outlined
the procedures for doing so. Engineer Thajeel agreed to supply
the necessary documentation.
7. COMMENT: Both Provincial Councils and donor organizations
overcame significant hurdles in order to submit acceptable lists
of prioritized projects to the NET. The political crisis caused
by the fuel price increases, traffic snarled by cars lined up
for fuel, and angry crowds did not prevent Provincial Council
members from attending the PRDC meetings and proceeding with
project implementation. The announcement of funds for
infrastructure projects sparked renewed interest in the PRDC,
moving forward reconstruction and development efforts in these
two southern provinces. END COMMENT.
GROSS
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