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Iraq 'Won't Reach UN's Development Goals On Time'

A TV satellite dish sits next next to a makeshift home in Baghdad's al-Dora slum (file photo)

A TV satellite dish sits next next to a makeshift home in Baghdad's al-Dora slum (file photo)

BAGHDAD -- A senior Iraqi official says the government is working hard to reach its UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) but is unlikely to reach all of them by 2015, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Mehdi al-Alak, Iraq's deputy minister of planning and head of the central organization for statistics and information technology, told RFI that Iraq expects to have fulfilled about 75 percent of the MDG by 2015.

That is the year set by world leaders in 2000 for reaching the MDG targets on such issues as poverty, provision of clean drinking water, improvement of health care and schools, and reduction of maternal and child mortality rates.

In its latest report on the Middle East and North Africa, the World Bank wrote that "all countries of the region, with the exception of Djibouti, Iraq, and Yemen stand to meet or narrowly miss most of the Millennium Targets."

Al-Alak said a combination of political, security, logistical, and bureaucratic factors have made it impossible for Iraq to meet all of the goals.

He said that considering those daunting challenges facing Iraq, remarkable progress has been made in vital sectors like health care, where the infant mortality rate has been sharply reduced from more than 100 per 1,000 live births before 2003, when Saddam Hussein was Iraq's leader, to less than 40 per 1,000 births at present.

Mudhhir Muhammad Salih, a member of the Iraqi Central Bank advisory panel, told RFI on October 6 that the World Bank report should serve as an incentive to Iraq to step up development efforts and rethink strategy to more clearly determine the role of central planning and private-sector entrepreneurship in achieving the country's development goals.

Salih said a major impediment in this respect is a lack of vision and a systematic approach to development on the part of Iraq's leadership.

Economic analyst Bassim Jamil Antoine told RFI that both private-sector initiative and state resources need to be mobilized. He added that the focus -- considering the current state of the Iraqi economy -- should be on infrastructure construction, rural development, and public services.