INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Prt Diyala: Encouraging Signs in Diyala

Published: Mon 14 Apr 2008 06:42 AM
VZCZCXRO6633
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1157/01 1050642
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140642Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6832
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001157
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAGR ECON ETRD EAID EFIN IZ
SUBJECT: PRT DIYALA: ENCOURAGING SIGNS IN DIYALA
WITH PASSAGE OF BUDGET, IMPROVED SECURITY ENVIRONMENT,
AND NEW PRT STAFFING
1. (U) This is a PRT Diyala reporting cable.
SUMMARY
-------
2. (U) The Diyala Provincial Government is increasingly eager to
engage with the PRT thanks to improving security, the onset of the
election season, the long-delayed passage of the 2008 provincial
budget coupled with initial execution of the 2006 and 2007
provincial budgets, as well as a boost in PRT staffing. The arrival
of a number of non-DoD subject matter experts (SME) to augment the
PRT, and most recently the arrival of RTI to conduct training for
provincial employees and elected officials have contributed to the
sudden surge of interest in interaction from the previously moribund
Provincial Government. END SUMMARY.
IMPROVED SECURITY AND BUDGET EXECUTION
PROMPTING PROGRESS
--------------------------------------
3. (U) The success of recent joint US-Iraqi military operations in
Diyala has provided the Provincial Government space to begin
providing essential services to areas formerly controlled by Al
Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). GOI monies for projects at all levels are
becoming available, and contracts, some from 2006, are being
executed. The recent and long delayed passage of the 2008
provincial budget, coupled with recent GOI announcements of
supplemental budget availability contingent on expenditure of
current budgets, is motivating all levels of the Diyala Provincial
Government to move more rapidly to secure and conspicuously
distribute their piece of the fiscal pie before the election cycle
heats up.
PROVINCIAL COUNCIL INCREASES ENGAGEMENT
---------------------------------------
4. (U) Provincial Council (PC) Committee members have increased the
pace and depth of contact of collaborative meetings with the PRT in
an effort to jump-start stalled programs and increase the perception
of PC member involvement. Recent decisions affecting USG
unwillingness to further fund capital projects, while initially
disconcerting to Iraqi officials, have been taken in stride as
officials are encouraged to access the funds available through the
GOI.
5. (U) Members of two provincial council committees, Education and
Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), regularly request weekly
meetings with the PRT and transportation to attend events with local
military units. School re-openings and medical missions to IDP
clusters, regardless of PC involvement with the project, are now all
objects of intense PC interest. The Provincial Health Committee,
comprised of the PRT public health liaisons, the acting Director
General (DG) of Health, and the members of the PC health committee,
has additionally established a weekly meeting schedule to discuss
projects and greater outreach opportunities. Previously, the Health
DG was very involved with policy issues but never engaged the PC
health committee. This increased interest in engagement comes at a
critical time for Diyala, with the beginning of a large infusion of
funds from the past budgets finally moving into the execution phase,
and the GOI publicly announcing the promise of new monies almost
daily. Diyala residents have high expectations of provincial
government officials, who know that they must convey the message
that they are the driving force behind real progress in the province
if they hope to retain their seats in upcoming elections.
INCREASED PRT STAFFING BOOSTS OPERATIONS
----------------------------------------
6. (U) Highly-qualified civilian SMEs who recently joined the PRT
are a tremendous boon to the increased interaction between the PRT
and the Provincial Government. Engineers, city planners, business
development experts, public health personnel, and agronomists have
rushed to establish contact and relationships with various
provincial council committees and are successfully energizing
relationships with previously unengaged sectors of Diyala society.
Although still handicapped by a chronic shortage of linguist
support, the addition of SMEs has given a great boost to PRT
operations.
7. (U) Additionally, the long awaited arrival of staff from
Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a USAID training contractor, has
heightened interest by Provincial Government staff, who are eagerly
signing up for training programs to enhance their professional
performance. In the past, staff were only interested in training
opportunities when they were offered outside the province. Now, in
recognition of improved security, Governor Ra'ad has declared that
training will be a part of the work day and conducted within the
province. Staff from the Provincial Government's Contracts, Legal,
and Finance sections are eager to begin computer training to enhance
those offices' day-to-day operations and have signed up for a broad
range of courses that should make help make them better overall
BAGHDAD 00001157 002 OF 002
administrators.
COMMENT
-------
8. (U) The combination of an improved security environment and
recent passage of the 2008 provincial budget has accelerated the
pace of progress in Diyala. However, there remain concerns that
pre-election violence could jeopardize the gains made in the last
few months. The PRT and its military colleagues continue to focus
efforts on budget execution with non-stop follow-up in essential
service improvements province-wide. These are the key elements to
ensure that progress continues through the election cycle and into
the next provincial administration.
BUTENIS
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