Iraq is looking for investors in housing and infrastructure projects, Mohammad Al Daraji, its Minister of Construction and Housing, told a conference in Abu Dhabi. Al Daraji extended an invitation to the delegates at the Arabian World Construction Summit 2012 in Abu Dhabi to look at potential opportunities for projects and investments in Iraq.
"Now is the time for the big names to come to Iraq either in private public partnerships or to invest in Iraq," said Al Daraji, Iraq's Minister of Construction and Housing.
"This is "an invitation to work and make money out of Iraq," he added.
Al Daraji said that investment is much needed in housing, roads and infrastructure. Iraq needs to build 2.5 million housing units and 7,000 kilometers of new roads by 2016, he said.
The government has already allocated $9.8 billion for roads and housing between now and 2016.
"We're going to spend $2 billion over the next two years on social housing projects and another $2 billion on low cost housing, he said. That's in addition to $5.8 billion for roads.
The government has also dedicated $1 billion in interest-free loans to help people build their own homes. So far we've been able to help build 16,000 houses in the past four years, Al Daraji said.
"Forty per cent [of our budget] goes into energy and another percentage which I can't mention goes into defence," Al Daraji told Gulf News.
"Two third of our budget also goes into operational costs such as salaries and governmental operations. We have a problem with our budget planning, we need to sort it out in he next two three years."
Iraq's total 2012 budget is $112 billion.
"No budget can meet the Iraqi infrastructure needs. Investments are required," he said.
The government is also looking at increasing its oil production from 2.3 million barrels to more than 5 million barrels by 2016, Daraji said. But one thing's certain, the interest is definitely there, as Iraq is expected to lead the boom in project spending in the Middle East over the next five years.