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6/1/03 - BREMER ON IRAQI ECONOMY - 2003-06-02

Now that the Iraqi people are free of the Saddam Hussein tyranny, the United Nations Security Council has lifted economic sanctions on Iraq. This means that Iraqi oil can be exported to finance reconstruction and humanitarian needs, and vital goods and services can be imported into Iraq. As Civil Administrator Paul Bremer said, “Iraq is open for business again.”

But it will not be easy to rebuild an Iraqi economy that was devastated by decades of rule by Saddam’s Arab Baath Socialist party. As a first step, said Ambassador Bremer, the coalition has been busy restoring essential services:

“We turned water and power on, and we are working hard to improve basic services nationwide. We have got an Iraqi police force up and running and conducting joint patrols with coalition military forces. We have got most of the ministries back to work, one way or the other, some in their original buildings, some in temporary accommodations.”

Now, a new phase is beginning in the reconstruction of Iraq. It is to help Iraq’s people realize the benefits of the free market and political freedoms. One of those leading these efforts is Peter McPherson, former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and now the senior adviser to Iraq’s finance ministry. Mr. McPherson said the economy will have to be re-ordered “to allow the forces of supply and demand to function.”

As President George W. Bush has made clear, the U.S.-led coalition is committed to the establishment of a free Iraq. And this means that the Iraqi people -- not the government -- must control more of the country's resources. History shows, said Ambassador Bremer, “that substantial and broadly held resources, protected by private property, private rights, are the best protection of political freedom.” In other words, said Ambassador Bremer, “A free economy and a free people go hand in hand.”