To promote the development of the private sector in Iraq, UNDP organises a study tour to Warsaw

24 Nov 2011

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Concepts like South-South Cooperation are prone to becoming the “next- big thing” in the international development realm. However, when governments and international organizations team up to build credible knowledge-sharing channels, fashion fades as genuine institutions emerge. Promoting private sector development in Iraq is a priority for UNDP’s Country offices in Iraq and Europe.

Challenges facing UNDP’s efforts to promote the private-sector in Iraq are similar to those faced by nations in Central and Eastern Europe, nations that had to transition away from centrally-planned regimes in the 1990s. Poland stands out as a country that has successfully transitioned from this type of government to one with a strong private sector economy.

Envisioning opportunities for synergies, UNDP country offices in Iraq and Europe endeavored to build partnerships between the governments of Iraq and Poland, helping them set up a collaborative framework to learn from, including building on past mistakes and successes in the areas of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise development and Social Mitigation Packages.

The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) is internationally recognized for its success in promoting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises making it a highly relevant partner for the economic development of Iraq. In this context, UNDP Iraq organized a Study Tour aimed at enhancing the knowledge and capabilities of a selected group of representatives from the Iraqi government and private sector to analyze the steps undertaken by Poland to set up the PARP.

The Study Tour offered the opportunity for the Iraqi participants to study how PARP is an effective institutional tool that has helped evolve the Polish economy from one that is centrally planned to a market-based one, within which the private sector – and particularly SMEs – play a predominant role.

Hailing from Baghdad, Anbar, Basrah and Erbil, a high-level delegation composed of 17 participants from the public sector and 14 from the private sector spent one week in Warsaw. Upon their return, these actors have become an igniting force within the government and the private sector, helping to create and sustain momentum for the SME Agency’s role as the optimal institutional arrangement to cater to the needs of the Iraqi private sector. This new institution will become an agent of change and promotion for the Iraqi economy, rather than just another “white elephant”.

This study-tour was conducted under the project of Private Sector Development Programme for Iraq. A project that was launched in 2009 stemming from the need to diversify the Iraqi economy to alleviate its excessive reliance on oil and create alternative sources of revenue and, more importantly, sustainable jobs. the project is a joint venture between the United Nations, the Government of Iraq and members of the international community. It is implemented by seven UN agencies (UNDP, UNIDO, ILO, UNOPS, UN-Habitat, UN-Women and FAO) under the coordination of UNDP and is funded by the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund.

PSDP-I works with the Task Force for Economic Reforms as the key national counterpart to create a growth-enabling business environment by strengthening national capacities to lead private sector development; strengthening the operational, legislative and regulatory environment for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises development; and promoting local economic development strategies to achieve level economic growth.

In line with PSDP-I’s Work Plan, an SME Law, SME Policy Framework, and the terms of reference for the creation of an SME Agency were drafted and agreed with the government. However, the future efficacy of such institutional tools is correlated to the capacity of those responsible for launching and running the SME Agency; these stakeholders must have the right sets of skills and technical knowledge to ensure that the agency accomplishes its objectives. This study tour we have just conducted will prove to be pivotal in making such venture a reality!

Contact Information

Mr. Ramses Vargas, Capacity Building Specialist, UNDP Iraq: ramses.vargas@undp.org

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