Private-sector involvement in Iraq’s economy is vital if the country is to meet economic diversification targets and reduce employment, MEED’s Iraq Energy Projects conference has been told.

“We don’t have an economy, we have an oil rentier country. The only way to get out of that is other investment, to encourage the private sector,” said Adnan al-Janabi, chairman of the Oil & Energy Committee in Iraq’s parliament, speaking at MEED’s Iraq Energy Projects Conference 2013 in Dubai on 25 March.

Al-Janabi said a sharp rise in the government’s budget over the past 10 years has had little impact on boosting the country’s wider economy due to a shortfall of private investment.

“The budget has increased, but due to the government having to spend so much in all sectors, we still have unemployment,” said Al-Janabi.

Iraq’s government has budgeted $118.4bn for 2013, 95 per cent higher than the $6.1bn budgeted 10 years previously in 2003, when the US-led invasion overthrew the former president Saddam Hussein.

Al-Janabi highlighted the power sector as one area in which private-sector investment would form an important part of the country’s development plans.