Shafaq News / The crisis of soaring food prices in al-Anbar, western Iraq, appears to be unbearable for the governorate's inhabitants, who are experiencing record levels of poverty and unemployment due to the destruction and sabotage caused by ISIS's invasion in 2014 and subsequent liberation military operations. All of this has prompted citizens to demand price-cutting measures, particularly as Ramadhan approaches.
Many citizens were taken aback by government officials' "allegations" that the Dinar devaluation caused a crisis, pointing out that the dollar has been rising for nearly a year, while the price crisis has only recently emerged.
While others were surprised by other officials' "claims" that the Russian-Ukrainian war had raised prices, especially since it had more than doubled the oil price, i.e., its impact on Iraq was more positive than negative.
"There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of employees like me with a salary of no more than 700,000 dinars, divided between paying rent, providing necessities of life, paying for electricity, purchasing drinking water, meeting the needs of our student children, and treating our patients in non-governmental hospitals since governmental hospitals provide nothing more than a place to wash the dead before burying them." So, how can we bear the burden of ever-increasing prices?" Ahmed Saad wondered.
He wondered in an interview with our correspondent, "Does our government really think that adding 100,000 dinars to our salaries is a solution to the crisis, or is it a joke?"
"A while ago, the government announced that compensating Kuwait for the Iraqi invasion came to an end, i.e., we are no longer paying millions of dollars a year. So, when will we Iraqis be compensated for the destruction of our properties after the war against ISIS, which occupied our areas as a result of the government's mistakes?" asked Ahmed's brother, Abdul Aziz Saad.
"With the price of oil rising to more than $130 a barrel, will we poor people make some of these billions of dollars? or will the government pocket the dollar, while we wonder how to buy vegetable oil for 4,000 dinars?" he added.
For his part, Ramadi district's administrator, Ibrahim al-Awsaj, stated, "Unfortunately, press and media blame everyone but those in charge. The problem of high prices begins and ends with the central government, exclusively at the ministries of trade, agriculture, and water resources."
"The basis of what we are experiencing today is lack of local production, and the central government should bear responsibility for failing to prepare for such crises, as well as halving winter farming rates due to water scarcity."
Al-Awsaj continued, "The Ministry of Water Resources has already recommended to the Ministry of Agriculture that 50% of the agriculture rate should be reduced this year, due to the lack of rainfall and the reduction of water levels, which has greatly harmed the economic situation."
"The Russian-Ukrainian war also played a role in raising prices, as did the near lack of control over border crossings, as no revenues or imports were going to their designated location, as well as the central government's reluctance in controlling the hard currency."
"I believe that the central government should cancel the tariff process and the import leave that costs the importer huge sums. It also has to control imports and revenues in agreement with the Ministry of Trade to overcome this crisis," al-Awsaj added.
On measures taken by the local government in al-Anbar to reduce the crisis, al-Awsaj commented, "We have done our best within our powers, by controlling prices, combating obscene prices, and taking legal action against anyone who tries to exploit the crisis."
He also denied reports in the social media about arresting traders and shopkeepers manipulating prices in al-Anbar, "The majority of them have been warned, and if the situation is repeated, legal action will be taken against them."
"According to the Interior Ministry's instructions, committees have been formed in coordination with the commercial control service to follow up on markets, hold price manipulators accountable, and arrest violators," stated a senior security source, a brigadier general at al-Anbar's directorate of economic crime.
"We are working to monitor all markets and stores of crops and food in the governorate, and the situation is under control."
The source denied that civilian security personnel were deployed in markets to monitor price manipulators, saying, "The people are cooperating with us to combat the crisis, follow up on the markets, and fight the outrageous prices. Anyone who tries to exploit the crisis will be punished."