U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- Billions of dollars in projects to improve
water, sewer and electrical systems in Iraq could not be completed
because the money had to be used to increase security, according to a
U.S. government audit released.
Nearly one-third -- or a total of $5.6 billion -- of the $18.4
billion that Congress appropriated for Iraq relief and reconstruction
in 2003 was shifted to address the new priorities and heightened
security as of last Sept. 30, the audit said.
Moving money to those projects ended many plans to repair dams,
improve water quality and repair and build sewer systems needed to
remove sewage that built up near schools, hospitals and public
markets in cities across the country.
"Because of the increase in insurgency activities, contractors
have had to include better site protection, hardened vehicles for
personnel transportation and trained security teams with special
communications capability," the audit said.
Officials increased funding for police training by more than 90
per cent, to $1.8 billion; border enforcement by nearly 200 per cent,
to $436 million; and Iraqi National Guard operations and personnel by
close to 300 per cent, to $224.6 million.
Funding for private sector development jumped from the planned
$153 million to $443 million - an increase of 290 per cent.
The audit, released by the Special Inspector General for Iraq
Reconstruction, is the latest in a string of critical reports that
detail how the former Coalition Provisional Authority badly handled
rebuilding projects and failed to account for millions of dollars in
Four people have been charged with fraud, and up to a dozen cases
have been referred to the Justice Department.
Overall, just 49 of the planned water and sewer projects will be
completed, and 300 of the planned 425 electrical projects will be
done, according to the audit.
Part of the problem, the auditors said, was that the CPA
underestimated the decrepit condition of the country's
infrastructure. Some of the reconstruction plans were initially made
without a clear understanding of how bad the conditions in Iraq were,
the auditors said.
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