: Baghdad, May 22 (AKnews) – The parliamentary commission investigating the case of the expired food products purchased between 2008 and 2010 as part of the national ration card scheme, is to meet on Monday.
Commision chairman, Ahmed al-Alwani told AKnews that the “important” Monday meeting will be dedicated to examining the Ministry of Trade paperwork related to the purchase of the defective items.
“The investigative commission will work professionally and in accordance with legal evidence,” he said, “those parties found to be guilty of corruption will be judged regardless of their political affiliation or position”.
Allegations of ministerial corruption put additional strain on a scheme that has already sparked much controversy.
Last year the Trade Ministry announced cuts to the ration card system that provides economically challenged Iraqi families with cut price staple food items. The cuts effectively reduced the scope of the subsidies to include just four items; flour, sugar, cooking oil and rice.
The ration card system was adopted in Iraq after the UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
With independent figures indicating that 27% of the Iraqi population lives below the poverty line, the ration card remains for many an important source of economic relief.
In the 2010 federal budget, close to $2.9 billion was allocated to the ration card scheme which had cost the country more than $3.1 billion in 2009.
The system has faced increasing criticism in a number of Iraqi provinces where distribution of the items covered by the scheme is often delayed or incomplete and in some parts of the country, the scheme has stopped functioning altogether.
The delivery of the ration card items was delayed this year in most provinces for reasons described by the Trade ministry as “technical”.
Protests breaking out across Iraq in earlier this year focused on poor public services, rising unemployment and cuts to the ration card system, all contributing to an overall slump in living standards for many Iraqi citizens.
In response to the criticism of the ration card scheme, the Iraqi government pledged in March to compensate every citizen affected by it with 15,000 Iraqi Dinars (around $12
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