US launches Iraq contract agency

The US said it plans to create a new agency, under the auspices of the Pentagon, to deal with awarding contracts related to the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

    Businesses are still being damaged by resistance attacks

    The new agency, which has yet to be named, will start work at the beginning of November under the direction of retired admiral David Nash, according to the US Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for International Technology Security, John Shaw.
    The unit will be charged with coordinating the distribution of sub-contracting work in Iraq, notably by US groups Bechtel and Halliburton, the main contractors in Iraq's reconstruction.

    Shaw agreed there were “divergences” over the process between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) - which awarded the main contracts under the supervision of the State Department - and the Pentagon.
    An Iraqi businessman at the London conference where the announcement was made, said the current process of awarding sub-contracts in Iraq was “so slow, bureaucratic, and not very fair,” AFP reported

    “Whether you are pro-war or against war is irrelevant now. We have a country to rebuild” 

    Rubar Sandi - Baghdad hotel owner


    In country

    To be awarded a contract “you have to be there,” Mustafa al-Hijaj, head of development at the Iraqi company al-Hameediyaih Co Ltd, which has managed to secure work from Bechtel to help to repair Iraq's water treatment systems said.
    Still, many businesses feel that the main impediment to doing business in the war-ravaged country is the volatile security situation.

    Both US and Iraqi businessmen called for delegates to set aside their fears and take advantage of the situation.

    “If you don't participate in reconstruction now, it will affect your position” in the future, Rubar Sandi, a Kurdish-American who is advising the interim Iraqi authorities, said.

    “Whether you are pro-war or against war is irrelevant now. We have a country to rebuild,” said Sandi, the owner of the Baghdad Hotel, the target of a car bomb on Sunday that killed eight people.



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