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Iraq's budget to increase amount spent on security, reconstruction

The Associated Press

Iraq: Iraq's 2007 budget will increase the amount of money to be spent on the country's security, as well as giving more money to reconstruction efforts, the finance minister said Wednesday.

Bayan Jabr said the final amount of the budget depended on oil revenues and had not yet been determined, but added that it could reach a total of US$33 billion (25.7 billion).

"The strategy of the 2007 budget will ensure the needs of security stability," Jabr said in a news conference held in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

He said it would be presented to parliament for a vote soon, but did not specify a date. Jabr said US$10.7 billion (8.3 billion) had been allocated for rebuilding efforts an increase of US$4.5 billion ( 3.5 billion) from the 2006 budget.

The defense and interior ministries, which are responsible for the country's security, would get a total of US$6 billion (4.6 billion) 20 percent more than the two ministries received in the 2006 budget.

Another US$4 billion (3.1 billion) was earmarked for improving the country's battered oil infrastructure and increasing oil production, while another US$2 billion (1.5 billion) will go toward electricity projects, Jabr said. Iraq's oil infrastructure is frequently targeted by insurgents who blow up pipelines and target oil workers in attacks.

The country has struggled to resume oil production to prewar levels of about 2.5 million to 3 million barrels a day, and currently faces a severe fuel shortage. As of last May, production stood at about 1.9 million barrels a day.





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