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Shafaq News / As European countries and the U.S. begin to gradually recover from the COVID-19 pandemic's effects, Iraq continues to impose total lockdown measures without showing any governmental support for citizens and low-income people to overcome the difficult lockdown days.
Europe and the U.S. Have pursued strict policies to reduce the disease, including the lockdown. Culminated in manufacturing a vaccine to eliminate the pandemic and gradually restart the economic wheel.
Iraq has also pursued a policy of total and partial curfew since the coronavirus (COVİD-19) began to spread in the country. However, the support policy did not exist in the decision makers' mentality after it was resisting to meet the requirements of employees' salaries during the past period as a result of the decrease in oil prices - which is the main supplier of the general budget - or even after the rise in oil prices at the beginning of this year.
As Eid Al-Fitr approached, the Iraqi government announced a 10-day lockdown, putting the citizens under unfortunate economic pressures, as most of the citizens are daily workers and earn according to that. This makes the economic collapse's scenario continuous and unbearable for both the State and the citizens.
"The government has no alternatives to compensate citizens for the negative effects of the lockdown days," economist Basim Jamil Antoine told Shafaq News agency.
"The United Nations has identified three points regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), the first is reducing the number of fatalities and infections, the second is to address the recession and the economic situation, and thirdly the experiences learned from the pandemic and its economic and social impact. Treating the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq was not properly addressed," added, Antoine.
"Iraq lost 30% of GDP in 2020 and this cannot be easily compensated. Iraq was supposed to follow the example of other countries by compensating citizens with specific funds during the lockdown period, especially as most of the families do not have financial reserves. There are 8 million private-sector workers left without any support," he continued.
As for the economist Dhurgham Mohammed Ali, he commented, "The ban affects temporary and permanent jobs and daily wage earners such as construction workers, restaurant workers, delivery workers, taxi drivers, and street vendors, as well as weekly businesses such as the Friday, Ghazil, and Al-Mutannabi markets."
"This creat a gap in spending, especially since rental owners do not reduce tariffs in light of the high operational cost and low returns, so the lockdown is a complete interruption of all these categories without compensation," Dhurgham added.
For her part, Nada Shakir Jawdat, a member of the parliamentary economics committee stated, "the lockdown and the rise in prices have led to a recession in the markets, which coincided with the month of Ramadan and then Eid. Most people depend on their daily works to live, and the government has not contributed to any financial aid nor was it able to provide health materials to treat the virus."
"What is happening in Iraq has not happened even in countries with weak economies that have been able to help people in such circumstances. Most people in Iraq do not have a fixed salary and therefore, the government must help them in this ordeal to find solutions instead of plunging them into debt by eid," she added.
"The most affected by the lockdown are those who earn by working daily," The Prime Minister's economic and financial advisor, Mudhhir Mohammed Saleh told Shafaq News agency, "This category does not have a social welfare salary or pension as a source of income, nor do they receive any support from the government."
"Those citizens must be supported financially, especially as the state proceeds to impose lockdown, in order to not increase the gap between the society's strata, and to prevent any rise in the poverty rate in the country, especially since most of them do not have a strong financial balance to support themselves during the lockdown days," Saleh added.
Poverty rate 30%
Poverty and price inflation have increased in the past months of this year, at a time when most economic sectors are experiencing near-disruption, "Inflation has increased by about 5.6% from November 2020 to March 2021, affecting the rise in domestic market prices," said Planning Ministry spokesman, Abdul Zahra Al-Hindawi.
Al-Hindawi continued, "Poverty has also risen from 15% before 2014 to 30% in 2020. According to the latest 2018 census, the unemployment rate in Iraq is 13.8. The ministry is working on updating its statistics to find out the latest unemployment rates in Iraq."
The lockdown stifled Eid Al-Fitr's joy
"Enforcing 10- day lockdown before Eid has stifled its joy," Fadhil Hussein told Shafaq News agency, adding, "All fasting people were eagerly waiting to enjoy Eid al-Fitr, but the government has spoiled it with the lockdown."
"The government's lockdown announced before Eid has affected many shopkeepers who were waiting to market their goods before Eid. The lockdown has nothing to do with public health as much as it has security reasons," Fadhil added.
"Many private-sector owners have been affected by the repeatedly enforced lockdown," Hassan Hadi, owner of a taxi, told Shafaq News agency, adding that what he earns in the period between lockdowns does not meet the need of his five-member family.
"Many citizens have given up riding taxis due to the deteriorating economic situation," he said, noting that this lockdown is another blow to low-income citizens and taxi owners who will have no income for ten days. Adding that it will harm families as they will not be able to buy their clothing needs before Eid as they used to do every year.
"The imposition of the lockdown came at the wrong time, especially since we were waiting for these days to sell our goods after the recession we suffered during the past period. We kept earning during last Eid's days as we kept our shops open," Mohammed Hussein, owner of a shop in Baghdad's Karrada area, told Shafaq News agency.
"This year will be difficult for all shops, especially since the owners of the property are ruthless and refuse to reduce rents and therefore many shops will be closed as a result of bankruptcy," Mohammed said, pointing out that the State remains a spectator who imposes more lockdowns indifferent to what our suffering.
The Iraqi government recently imposed a complete lockdown on Friday and Saturday and a partial ban on the rest of the week. Announcing a total lockdown from Wednesday, May 12 to May 22, under the pretext of preventing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) during Eid.
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