Iraq has only 190,000 tons of rice left for food program: Trade Ministry

An Iraqi farmer plants amber rice in the Mishkhab region, central Iraq. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 01 June 2020

Iraq has only 190,000 tons of rice left for food program: Trade Ministry

  • The country needs around 1-1.25 million tons of rice a year to support the food rationing initiative

BAGHDAD: Iraq has only 190,000 tons of rice available in its coffers for its food rationing program, the Trade Ministry said in a statement late on Saturday.

The country needs around 1-1.25 million tons of rice a year to support the program.

In March, the ministry pleaded for money from the state’s budget to build three months’ supply of strategic wheat and rice stockpiles as Iraq grappled with the spread of the new coronavirus.

The ministry renewed its call for more funds, saying the allocations were crucial, despite “difficulties” with the budget, because many Iraqis are “struggling to provide their daily food due to tough economic conditions amid the coronavirus crisis.”

Iraq, a major Middle East wheat and rice buyer, was politically gridlocked after former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was ousted by nationwide anti-corruption protests, hampering efforts to get a state budget approved before the start of the calendar year.

Iraq’s grain board, which falls under the Trade Ministry, holds regular international tenders to import wheat and rice for the rationing program, which also covers cooking oil, flour and sugar.


Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

Updated 13 August 2020

Turkey on brink of recession as economy collapses

  • Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months

JEDDAH: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity is plunging in lockstep with Turkey’s collapsing economy and the country is on the verge of a potentially devastating recession, financial experts have told Arab News.
The value of the Turkish lira has fallen to 7.30 against the US dollar and the central bank has spent $65 billion to prop up the currency, according to the US investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Consumer debt has increased by 25 percent to more than $100 billion in the past three months as the government moved to help families during the coronavirus pandemic, but the result has been a surge in inflation to 12 percent.
With the falling lira and increased price of imported goods, the living standards of many Turks who earn in lira but have dollar debts have fallen sharply.
The economy is expected to shrink by about 4 percent this year. The official unemployment rate remains at 12.8 percent because layoffs are banned, although many experts say the real figures are far higher.
To complete the perfect storm, tourism revenues and exports have been decimated by the pandemic, and foreign capital has fled amid fears over economic trends and the independence of the central bank.
Wolfango Piccoli, of Teneo Intelligence in London, said logic dictated an increase in interest rates but “this is unlikely to happen.”
Piccoli said central bank officials would strive to avoid an outright rate hike at their monetary policy meeting on Aug. 20. “A mix of controlled devaluation and backdoor policies, such as limiting Turkish lira’s liquidity, remains their preferred approach,” he said.
There is speculation of snap elections, and Erdogan’s view is that higher interest rates cause inflation, despite considerable economic evidence to the contrary.