The Quarterly Report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), Stuart Bowen, which was released this morning, indicates that the Iraqi government is experiencing a major financial windfall due to the record high cost of oil, and that the nation has the ability to pay a far greater share of its reconstruction costs. The SIGIR reports that since January 1, 2008, Iraq’s oil income has exceeded $18 billion, and if this trend continues, Iraqi oil revenues for 2008 could reach $70 billion. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Evan Bayh (D-IN) are leading a bipartisan effort in the Senate to ensure that the Iraqis start assuming more costs associated with reconstruction and other expenses, such as salaries of the “Sons of Iraq” and training and equipping of Iraqi Security forces.
“This SIGIR report confirms what Senators Nelson and Bayh and I have contended: As the Iraqi government is reaping an unanticipated windfall, the Iraqis should be picking up the tab for their own reconstruction and stabilization costs. There is simply no reason for the U.S. to continue paying for the cost of the salaries for the Sons of Iraq, for the training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces, and the fuel we use in Iraq given this boon in oil revenue,” said Senator Collins.
Senators Collins, Ben Nelson and Bayh are working on legislation that would prohibit further U.S dollars from paying for large-scale Iraqi reconstruction projects and it would shift to the Iraqis other expenses such as training and equipping of Iraqi security forces and the cost of salaries for the Sons of Iraq.
“The Collins-Nelson-Bayh proposal has growing support in the U.S. Senate, and it is my hope that this SIGIR report will help us move this important proposal forward,” added Senator Collins.