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Iraq Plans to Spend $9.8 Billion on Roads, Housing by 2016

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May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq plans to spend $9.8 billion on roads, bridges and housing through 2016 as the war-torn country’s budget doubles on higher oil production, according to the construction and housing minister.

The current annual budget is $112 billion, of which the energy industry consumes 40 percent, Mohammad Saheb al-Darraji said in an interview in Abu Dhabi today. The country is budgeting $5.8 billion on roads and bridges and $4 billion on housing, he said.

Iraq is pumping oil, its biggest foreign-currency generator, at the highest rate since Saddam Hussein seized power in 1979 as it seeks to increase income for reconstruction. Oil production will reach about 6 million barrels a day by 2016, al-Darraji said. The country produced 3.03 million barrels a day in April, according to an OPEC monthly report on May 10.

The country needs 2.5 million homes in the next four or five years, although budgetary constraints may make that target difficult to achieve, al-Darraji said. A $250 million housing project tender to build 3,000 mid-income homes in Basra will close in two weeks, he said.

A $7 billion contract with South Korea’s Hanwha Engineering & Construction Corp. to build 100,000 housing units over the next 7 years has been finalized, al-Darraji said.

The government is also considering Poly Technologies Inc. as a candidate to build a highway that will link the country to Turkey.

“We are in discussions with them,” al-Darraji said. “They are offering financing,” for the project.

With assistance from Ayesha Daya in Dubai. --Editors: Tim Farrand, Alan Purkiss

To contact the reporter on this story: Tamara Walid in Abu Dhabi at twalid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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