25 September 2003

Iraqi council backs off foreign ownership

BAGHDAD - Iraq's Governing Council on Wednesday backed off from a pledge by its finance minister to allow 100 percent foreign ownership in most economic sectors here, saying his comments were not 'official.'

A statement issued by the US-installed council distanced it from a key part of a sweeping economic package presented by interim Finance Minister Kamel al-Kilani at the International Monetary Fund meeting in Dubai on Sunday.

The text said only the council president could announce policy, 'and the statements attributed to the finance minister about the law of investment cannot be considered official.'

The minister's announcement that Iraq would be open to 100-percent foreign ownership in all sectors except oil had sparked criticism in Iraqi business circles.

al-Kilani is a Chalabi nominee so his attempt to enact the Washington Cosnensus is not all that unexpected.

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