As a new National Assembly gets picked in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times (via the registrationless Duluth News-Tribune) reports on the former Iraqi Coaliton Provisional Authority's money-management troubles:
The U.S.-led provisional government in charge of Iraq until last summer was unable to properly account for nearly $9 billion in Iraqi money it was charged with safeguarding, according to a scathing new audit report.
The Coalition Provisional Authority may have paid salaries for thousands of nonexistent "ghost employees" in Iraqi ministries, issued unauthorized multimillion-dollar contracts, and provided little oversight of spending in possibly corrupt ministries, according to the report by Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
"While acknowledging the extraordinarily challenging threat environment that confronted the CPA throughout its existence and the number of actions taken by CPA to improve the (interim Iraqi government's) budgeting and financial management, we believe the CPA management of Iraq's national budget process and oversight of Iraqi funds was burdened by severe inefficiencies and poor management," concludes the report, which is scheduled for release today.
But Paul Bremer, who used to run that show, thinks the criticisms are bunk:
The "auditors presume that the coalition could achieve a standard of budgetary transparency and execution which even peaceful Western nations would have trouble meeting within a year, especially in the midst of war," Bremer wrote. "Given the situation the CPA found in Iraq at liberation, this is an unrealistic standard."