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 Kurdistan's Erbil has changed a lot, but it wonít be Dubai: Governor Nawzad Hadi

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Kurdistan's Erbil has changed a lot, but it wonít be Dubai: Governor Nawzad Hadi  4.7.2012 







 
Nawzad Hadi, the governor of Erbil, the capital city of Kurdistan region of Iraq. Photo: Rudaw
July 4, 2012

ERBIL-HewlÍr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq',ó In an interview with Rudaw.net, Erbil Governor Nawzad Hadi discusses the large number of apartment units and houses being built in the province this year, along with plans for the city as it continues its impressive development. Hadi describes how Erbil may no longer be Dubai, but could be the next tourist capital of the Arab world.

Q: What are your plans for Erbil after the budget is passed?

Nawzad Hadi: Each ministry has asked for a budget. Ministries allocate budgets to projects in each city. As for the Erbil governorship, we only have a budget called the provincial development budget. This is the only budget dedicated to developing provincial areas. The money is allocated to certain types of projects. However, the need for projects in Erbil is far greater than the annual budget allocated to Erbil. We have greater ambitions. We still have many places and neighborhoods that need service projects.

Q: A few years ago, you said ďwe will turn Erbil into Dubai,Ē but there are still neighborhoods in Erbil that are not paved. Do you have any strategic plans to turn Erbil into Dubai?

Nawzad Hadi: Erbil has changed a lot. It wonít be Dubai. Dubai is a megacity and very well-developed. However, today Erbil has an international reputation and people from most parts of the world visit.

It is true that there are areas and neighborhoods that are not paved, but that can be found in Dubai and even in America. The policy that is being implemented in Dubai (supporting the private sector and investment) is the same policy observed here.

When you talk about a neighborhood not being paved, you have to know that there are hundreds of neighborhoods that are paved, and dozens of buildings and hotels that have been built. All the villages have electricity and paved roads. But of course there are some places that need service projects; we are working on those areas too.

Q: There have been complaints about injustice in the distribution of projects. Smaller cities do not see as many projects as larger cities do. Do you have any plans to undertake important projects in smaller cities?

Nawzad Hadi: There is no injustice in the distribution of projects between smaller and larger cities. Projects are allocated based on city populations. Thatís how projects are equally distributed. There has been no discrimination against smaller cities. The biggest project to be carried out in Erbil is an irrigation system paid for from the Ministry of Municipalities budget.

Q: Agricultural lands have been used to build villas, mostly by government officials.

Nawzad Hadi: Well, we allocated 4,000 acres for a green project in the Kasnazan hilltops. We have already started that project. It will extend all the way to Tarin Mountain. However, the villas being built on the hills have leased their lands (agricultural contracts) by their owners. According to the contracts, they can build houses on the leased land.

This is not to say they are all leased and built legally; some of them are not. We all know there are many illegally built houses in Kurdistan. Security forces face problems with these houses on a daily basis. But villas on hilltops have benefited us, really. Now when a house is built, trees and grass are planted around the house.

Q: Kurdistanís president issued a decree to cut electricity from these houses. The decree has not been implemented yet. Why?

Nawzad Hadi: We have not received any such order. Presidential decrees are carried out by the Presidential Reform Committee directly.

Q: The Rizgari underpass and Jihan overpass projects are causing a lot of traffic. The deadlines for these projects are near. Do you think the deadlines will be met?

Nawzad Hadi: Those projects have been contracted out by the Erbil municipality, but my office supervises them. We have visited the project sites a few times to see what problems they have and encourage them to finish on time in order to get rid of the traffic caused by the projects. If they fail to meet the deadline, they will be fined,www.ekurd.net according to the contract. We will facilitate getting the projects finished before the deadline in any way possible. They had water and electricity issues; we solved those problems.

Q: In terms of volume of trade and investment, what is the difference between Erbil, Sulaimani and Duhok?

Nawzad Hadi: This is a question for the Investment Board, but as far as I know in Erbil there is $14 billion in investment projects conducted by the private sector. As for the other provinces, I donít know.

Q: People complain about prices in the market and the bad quality of commodities sold in Kurdistan.

Nawzad Hadi: In Erbil, there are several malls and traditional markets. Goods from many countries are imported into Kurdistan. Each one of these markets lists a price. No one can monopolize a particular good or its price. But different markets have different prices. Malls have different prices than traditional markets and this is how it is all over the world. Anyone is free to sell and import any particular commodity. No one monopolizes the market.

We have a committee from the mayorís office that supervises the markets and punishes violators. So far, the committee has shut down many businesses. If they reopen and repeat the violation, they will meet more severe punishment.

Q: How do expired goods and food items end up in the Kurdistan Region? What have you done to prevent the import of expired goods?

Nawzad Hadi: Border gates such as Ibrahim Khalil and Haji Omran are well-controlled. No expired goods enter Kurdistan. But expired goods sneak into Kurdistan from Iraqi border entrances. Iraqi border entrances are not controlled very well. That is how most expired goods find their way into Kurdistan.

Q: The Kurdistan Presidential Reform Committee found the largest amount of expired medical items in Erbil. How much does this impact Erbilís reputation?

Nawzad Hadi: No, the largest amount in Kurdistan was not found in Erbil. But the Market Supervision Committee in Erbil was more active than other cities; that is why a large pile of expired goods were found in Erbil. The mayorís committee has been supervising the markets for a long time. Only now have similar committees been formed in other cities. Today, Erbil is the medical center of Iraq. People from all over Iraq visit Erbil for medical treatments. This indicates that Erbil has a good medical reputation.

Q: There are talks about designating Erbil as the tourist capital of the Arab world. What has been done in this regard?

Nawzad Hadi: The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism has designated Erbil as the representative of Iraq in a competition for the Arab world tourist city. This is because Erbil is more advanced than all other Iraqi cities. The designation and preparation for the competition is being done by the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism. We have no hand in it. Each Arab country appoints a city for the competition. The competition will be carried out in 2014 when a city will be elected tourist capital of the Arab world.

Q: What happened to plans to turn the areas where the Erbil governorate building and Ministry of Health are located into green parks?

Nawzad Hadi: They are being processed. We are working on the new Erbil governorate building. The court building has already been completed. The Ministries of Health and Social Affairs will move out of their current locations. The Council of Ministers has approved the parks project and it has now started. But I donít know when it will be finished. We are now working on constructing buildings for all the above-mentioned government agencies. Once the new buildings are complete, we will destroy the old buildings and build parks instead.

By Barzan Muhammad - Rudaw

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, rudaw.net

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