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Iraqi Government Submits Bill Allowing Foreign Ownership Of Land

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's National Investment Commission and the Planning Ministry have submitted a bill to parliament allowing foreign land ownership for the first time, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Sami al-Araji, the commission's chairman, announced the proposal on August 4 at a business conference in Baghdad.

He noted that "the infrastructure reconstruction bill" invites foreign investors to bid for the construction of 500,000 housing units and ameliorate 1.5 million hectares of land.

He explained that 1.5 million hectares is twice the area of land presently available for agriculture.

He also noted that the proposal would lead to the use of modern irrigation techniques ensuring considerable savings for Iraq's scarce water resources.

The projects included in the plan are to be completed within three years.

Araji said that the planned projects would create thousands of jobs for Iraqis by requiring a certain percentage of those employed to be Iraqis.

He also claimed the world economic crisis could work to Iraq's advantage as it is a country uniquely open for business because the country is rebuilding and is seeking investment in virtually all sectors of the economy.