Iraqi election winner open to power sector privatization
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s 2018 national election winner and influential Shia cleric on Friday, expressed his support for the privatization of the country’s power sector to help address its chronic electricity shortages.
Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sairoon Coalition, suggested privatizing Iraq’s electricity supply system to ease the burden of production on the government.
“There have been disagreements between the people and the government on the privatization of Iraq’s electricity sector,” Sadr said. Iraq is known to experience regular power outages and has an inefficient electric power distribution network.
The Ministry of Electricity had previously proposed the partial privatization of Iraq’s power sector. However, this was rejected by most provinces, and the industry has remained under government management.
“I am not opposed to privatization, but measures should be taken [to protect the people,]” Sadr declared online.
The statement was a response to a question posted on the Shia cleric’s website, where his followers usually put forward their concerns and queries.
Sadr encouraged the Iraqi people to remain patient and did not go into further details on how he would implement partial or full privatization of the country’s production and distribution of electricity should a post-election alliance hand his coalition leadership of the country.
Sadr campaigned on a reform platform and has been very vocal of his criticism of the corruption in Baghdad which has stunted the development of the oil-rich nation.
Nearly 15 years after the fall of the Iraqi authoritarian government, basic electricity needs have yet to be met in a country where temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius in the summer.
Rising temperatures in the country lead to increased air conditioning usage, putting extra strain on the nation's beleaguered power infrastructure.
In a meeting on Monday, Haider al-Abadi discussed the current electricity shortage crisis with the Ministerial Energy Committee and explored possible courses of action to resolve the issue amid ongoing nightly protests in several Iraqi cities.
Editing by Nadia Riva