Go to contents

Per Capita GNP was 1,500 in 1977, but 1,000 in 2002

Posted October. 16, 2002 22:55,   


Iraq has 100 billion barrels of petroleum deposits, and it is the second largest oil producing country following Saudi Arabia. However, unlike Saudi Arabia, which has the GNP of over 10,000 dollars, the GNP of Iraq is predicted to be less than 1,000 dollars.

The GNP of Iraq in 1977 was around 1,500 dollars. After Sadam Hussein officially became the President, the GNP has been continuously dropped. The ratio of babies died before 5 years of age was 56 out of 1,000 in the 80`s, but it was increased to 131 by the middle of the 90`s.

The 8-year long war against Iran from 1980 to 1988 and the economic sanction by the UN due to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 were the causes of the financial difficulties. People are paying the price for the reckless decision to start a war by the President Hussein.

However, there is no evident that the Iraqi people are alienated from the Hussein`s regime.

An Iraq expert, the Head Researcher of the Moses Doyen Center in the Tel Aviv University, Ophra Benjio analyzed, “It is because the President Hussein has an extraordinary talent not for the wealth and power of the country but for his survival.”

The President Hussein`s regime is based on the only party in Iraq, Bat Party and the kindred of the 4 families from his hometown, Tikrit. He made his sons Udai and Qussay to marry to the daughters of military leaders, so he is having a relationship by marriage with the militarists. Like liquidating revolt suspects if he had chances, he has cleaned all the potential criticizing forces, so there are no threatening people anymore in Iraq.

In addition to these political factors, the unique Iraqi economy system is also a factor to support the stability of Hussein`s regime. Iraq takes the mixed economy system, which is a combination of the socialistic distribution system and the capitalism.

A month`s supply of a basic food package including sugar, tea, and flour is sold at mere 250 Dinar (about 100 won). Merchants took 3% of the selling price. In same ways, cars to taxi drivers or tractors to farmers were sold in cheap price. They call this a `progressive socialism` in Iraq.

Farmers and fishermen are belonged to unions, and the unions charge 5% of whatever the farmers and fishermen sold, but they supply basic goods including fuel in cheap price. The officers of the unions are elected by popular votes. They select the recipients by lot if they provide expensive items like an engine of a boat, so they keep fairness in a way. For the businesses, the tax is low with 3~4%

The Wall Street Journal, which posted a reportage article about Iraq on the 7th reported, “The Iraqi government is blocking the dissatisfaction of the people by buy the living necessaries with the money selling oils and distributing them evenly to the people.”

Eun-Taek Hong euntack@donga.com