donderdag, juni 12, 2003

Need Money? Ask Uncle Saddam

The US-led administration in Iraq is printing hundreds of thousands of new Iraqi banknotes bearing Saddam Hussein's portrait in defiance of its own ban on the public display of images of the ousted leader.

"Since I issued the instrument telling people to do away with images of Saddam Hussein, I guess you could say it's not a joy anyway," The administration's head Paul Bremer told a news conference.

He said his administration had come under enormous pressure from Iraqis to remedy the shortage of 250 dinar notes, as the 10,000 dinar bill, the only other one in circulation, trades at a sharply reduced rate against the dollar.

"It does give Baathist remnants an opportunity to make the argument that he is alive and will come back. It gives people a reason not to support the coalition, not because they don't want to support us, but because they are afraid."

Bremer also unveiled a 100-million-dollar fund for public works projects to tackle chronic joblessness which he put at more than 50 percent even before the war.

There are no job statistics in the confusion of postwar Iraq. But Iraqi and foreign experts alike estimate that at least one-third of the work force is either unemployed or underemployed.

"We're facing an unemployment problem that is certainly without precedent in my life," said Bremer, noting that it "creates a real hardship for Iraq men and women out there."

Meanwhile in America, The number of people collecting unemployment benefits in the last week of May increased to the highest in two decades as companies wait for the economy to accelerate before hiring or spending more.

While they've already tried to stimulate the economy by changing the color of $20 bills, and the $2 bill may be making a comeback, there is no word yet on when the Federal Reserve will begin printing George Bush money, but if these new Saddam bills work magic on the Iraqi economy, who knows, maybe some day we'll see of these.

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