Years of official secrecy and the ravages of numerous wars make it almost impossible to build a clear economic profile of Iraq, the World Bank’s Head of Mission in Iraq Faris Hadad-Zervos told Reuters.
The assessment, due to be finished later this month will be the World Bank’s first such report on the country in almost 25 years.
“It is not going to be perfect. This is going to be a quick and dirty assessment,” Hadad-Zervos said in an interview.
“Data continues to be a problem,” he said. “That's because of not only the recent conflict but philosophies that existed in the past that basically precluded free availability of data.”
The World Bank, which is due to meet potential donors in October, wants to determine how much the reconstruction of the country is likely to cost.
Though there is some available data, most of it is inconsistent, and thus any economic assement of the country will largely have to be built from scratch, Hadad-Zervos said.
Iraq has the world’s second-largest oil reserves but years of under investment, sabotage and looting have prevented the country from boosting oil production and earning much needed foreign currency since the end of major US military operations on May 1.
Iraq currently pumps about 800,000 barrels of oil per day.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries said last week that an Iraqi delegate will be invited to meetings of the Cartel once an internationally recognised government is in control of the country.
In its meetings earlier this week, the group elected to maintain its current production levels, betting that Iraq’s oil production is unlikely to be significant enough to impact prices before the end of the year.
“The revenue issue is uncertain. The cost issue is uncertain. There are so many uncertainties," Hadad-Zervos told Reuters. "It's likely there will be a gap.”
The World Bank has said it wants Iraq to have a constitution in place before it extends financial assistance to the debt-laden country.