By A. Al Bahrani
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 20, 2008 - The provincial reconstruction team for Iraq's Basra province, along with the Gulf Region South district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the United Nations Development Program concluded a two-day budget execution support workshop June 18 at the international airport here. The event provided a clear understanding of how the international community can support the provincial governor's office and technical directorates for the design and implementation of projects for the rest of the year, said Army Maj. Daniel George, a PRT engineer assigned from Gulf Region South's Basra Area Office.
Almost 60 Iraqi government officials representing the governor's office and eight technical directorates were given information to help them move the province forward.
The workshop's aim was to enable the provincial director general to get projects on line more quickly and efficiently and to build the capacity and technical skills of the technical directorate's staff, George explained.
"This was a positive workshop -- the local government was willing to discuss their strengths and weakness among each other, [using] us as facilitators, and the DGs developed a way ahead," he added.
"This was a great workshop following from the Istanbul recommendations," Rave Aulakh, a USAID representative, said. "We were able to identify the exact needs of the governor's office and the technical directorates in terms of training and equipment and were able to discuss solutions to their problems."
Majeed Aziz, a representative of Iraq's Communication Ministry, agreed. "This workshop is the first of its kind for Iraqi government departments," he said, "and it enables us [as government officials] to more efficiently design and implement our projects."
Galli al-Hussein, chief of the Basra Provincial Reconstruction Development Council, said the workshop marks a big step forward. "This joint workshop was very useful for Al Basra governor's office and the technical directorates, and it will have a very good economic impact on not only the Basra province, but all of Iraq's provinces," Hussein said.
(A. Al Bahrani is a public affairs specialist with the Gulf Region South district, Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Iraq.)