By Swara Kadir
Do lottery winners keep their money after they win, or do they usually lose it? What has this got to do with the Kurdish economy? Let me tell you.
Until recently the Kurdish economy has been getting easy (lottery) money from Baghdad for its share from the sales of crude oil. What was the easiest way to spend that money? By allocating around 70% of the annual budget to free handouts to people in the form of a big nanny state number of government paid employees.
This left little money for economic expansion and growth. Sectors like agriculture and tourism have significant economic potential and a distinct comparative advantage in the region. The plentiful water resources of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the fertile soil, the favorable moderate climate are just a few agricultural advantages.
Naturally flowing from this is the beauty of nature, variety of terrain, historic and touristic attractions are all great advantages for Kurdistan to become a booming tourist economy.
It seems the recent stoppage of the (lottery) money from Baghdad has taught the Kurds a lesson. Economic independence is a must, and easy money is never guaranteed.
The Kurdish economy cannot grow in its current form with its sole reliance on oil revenues. It must diversify into the other sectors mentioned above in order to have a sustainable economy.
Most of all, more investment is needed in Kurdish manpower through education and government action that will impel Kurds to get off their butt and begin work more.
An Australian/Kurdish joint venture since 2009, Kurdistan Adventures combines local knowledge with Western tour operating management. We pride ourselves on immersing our small groups of travelers in Iraqi Kurdistan culture with safety, security and professionalism. Our 8 day escorted tour includes the 3 major cities of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulymaniyah. A dedicated local guide will take you to key historical sites, explain local customs, dine with you in traditional restaurants and allow you to experience this amazing culture. Citizens of many countries including Australia, New Zealand, the EU, Canada, the UK and the USA are granted a free visa on arrival.