US Firms Hog Iraq Rebuilding Contracts
CONTROVERSY is growing over the US Government's apparent ``closed shop'' approach to the rebuilding of Iraq.
Cynics may say it was inevitable, but all the lucrative contracts so far have been given to giant American multinationals with close connections to George W Bush's Republican Party.
Yesterday San Francisco-based engineering and construction company Bechtel Corp was awarded an initial pounds 22m contract to help rebuild Iraq's power, water and sewage systems and repair airports and a seaport.
The contract could ultimately be worth pounds 430m over 18 months if the US Congress approves the funds.
Leading Democrats immediately complained that the contract was not put out to open tender, but the US Agency for International Development, the federal body which awarded the deal, defended the situation as the only way to get help to Iraq qu i ck
In another twist to the tale, the head of the Overseas Private Investment Corp - the agency that supports US investment around the globe - is former Bechtel executive Ross Conne
He was appointed by Bush. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, said the Bechtel contract showed that ``a troubling pattern is beginning to emerge, as some of the most powerful business interests in the country continue to receive these huge contracts without ... open, transparent bidding.''
Wyden and others are sponsoring a bill that would require a public explanation of contracts awarded under a limited bidding process. …