The AUIS Center for Development and Natural Resources (CDNR), under the aegis of the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS), hosted their first conference to discuss the economic policies and reforms for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region on January 21, 2016. The conference, entitled “Escaping the Rentier Model: Reforms in Iraq and Kurdistan Region”, convened representatives from Baghdad and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), experts and policy makers and diplomats and business leaders. Comprised of three panels, the CDNR conference covered challenges facing the oil and gas sector, ways to diversify the economy, as well as public finance management.
The conference opened with introductory remarks from Dr. Bilal Wahab, founding director of CDNR, and a short welcome address by Dr. Esther Mulnix, interim president of AUIS. Dr. Amanj Raheem, chief of staff of the KRG Council of Ministers spoke on behalf of the KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and delivered his keynote speech. Further opening remarks were also made by Mr. Rebaz Hamlan, KRG finance minister, and Matthias Mitman, U.S. Consul General in Erbil.
The opening panel focused on the oil and gas sector in the country. Moderated by Dr. Bilal Wahab, the participants focused their comments on the implications of the falling oil prices on the economy and the reforms required for the oil and gas revenue management. The participants included Dr. Thamir Al Ghadhban, energy advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister; Dr. Sherko Jawdat, chair of Kurdistan Parliament’s Oil and Gas Committee; Dr. Qaiwan Siwaily, managing director, Iraq International Oil Services, Kurdistan International Bank; and Christie Milner, senior economic officer at the U.S. Consulate Erbil.
Moderated by AUIS MBA alumnus, Dr. Bayad Jamal Ali, the second panel focused on the economic policies of the country. Participants discussed diversification and reducing dependence on oil rent. Speakers also discussed ways to enable a free market environment and providing healthy space to the private sector for it to play a greater role in improving the economy and employment, and bringing more transparency to the system. Speakers included Dr. Ezat Sabir, Kurdish Minister of Parliament heading the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee; Dr. Abdulbasit Turki Saeed, former governor of Iraq Central Bank; Adil Karim, Iraqi deputy minister of Industry; and Dr. James Whitaker, deputy office director, USAID, Iraq.
The concluding panel focused on recommendations for facing the burgeoning economic challenges facing Iraq and the KRI. The discussion focused on reforming institutions and policies to develop a stable long term policy while managing the current crisis. Some discussion also focused on the future of Baghdad-KRG financial relations. The panel was chaired by Aras Mohammad, finance expert and public accountant. Experts included Khalid Chawashli, chairman of the KRG Board of Supreme Audit; Dr. Sabah Khoshnaw, assistant professor of Public Finance at Salahaddin University; Dr. Mohammed Rauf, professor of Economics at University of Sulaimani; and Jim Parks, financial advisor to the KRG.
Hover mouse on image below to view slideshow or click to view or download high resolution images on Flickr.
Watch videos of all the discussions on the AUIS YouTube channel.
View the conference program in English, Kurdish and Arabic languages in the attached pdf document below.