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AP: Bush paper details Iraq spending plan
( 2003-09-23 08:54) (Agencies)

The administration wants $100 million for an Iraqi witness protection program, $290 million to hire, train and house thousands of firefighters, $9 million to modernize the postal service, including establishment of ZIP codes.

A Bush administration document, distributed to members of Congress and obtained by The Associated Press, goes far beyond the details officials have publicly provided for how they would spend the $20.3 billion they have requested for Iraqi reconstruction.

The 53 pages of justifications flesh out the size of the task of rebuilding the country, almost literally brick by brick. It also paints a painstaking picture of the damage Iraq has suffered.

"The war and subsequent looting destroyed over 165 firehouses throughout the country. There are no tools or equipment in any firehouse," according to the report, written by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led organization now running Iraq.

The report's estimated cost of rebuilding Iraq's fire service, including hiring and training 5,000 firefighters: $290 million.

At another point, the report says the headquarters and three regional offices of the border police "will require complete renovation." Two thousand new recruits must be trained because the agency previously used conscripts, "almost all of whom deserted."

Reviving that and other border protection agencies should cost $150 million, the report said.

The proposal was part of the $87 billion plan that President Bush sent Congress on Sept. 7 for Iraq and Afghanistan. The biggest piece of that package was $66 billion to finance U.S. military operations in both countries and elsewhere.

"Expeditious approval of this emergency appropriation is critical for the coalition to lay the groundwork for an Iraq governed by and for the people of Iraq, to serve as the model for democracy in the Mideast and to help fight the global war on terrorism by providing an alternative framework for governance," the request states.

Congress, just beginning work on Bush's proposal, is expected to approve it largely intact. But the political soft spot has been the $20.3 billion for reconstruction, because of record federal deficits facing this country and demands by Democrats for increased domestic security spending.

"The administration fought against a $200 million boost for America's police officers, firefighters and paramedics," Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said Monday at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. "But Iraqi first responders would get $290 million through this" Bush proposal.

Byrd made his comments at a hearing where L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, testified that the plan would help prevent terrorists from establishing a foothold there.

Other projects and their estimated costs listed in the report include:

_Spend $100 million to protect and perhaps relocate overseas 100 witnesses and their families who testify against former government officials, terrorist groups or organized crime figures. "Without an effective witness protection program, it is simply not possible to prosecute these cases," the report says.

_Hire, train and equip 20,000 guards to protect Iraqi government facilities, $67 million.

_Retain 500 experts to investigate crimes against humanity by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government, for $100 million.

_Build and modernize 26 jails and prisons for 8,500 inmates, $99 million.

_Spend $9 million to modernize Iraq's postal system, including establishment of ZIP codes.

_Rebuild the country's badly damaged electrical system, install at least 11 40-megawatt gas turbine generation plants and several larger units, replace power lines and towers, $2.9 billion.

_Spend $55 million for an oil pipeline repair team that can respond quickly to new reports of sabotage or other problems, as part of a $2.1 billion effort to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

_Use $1 billion to provide drinkable water to 75 percent of Iraq's urban population, an additional 2.7 million people, up from 60 percent today. An additional $530 million would be spent to serve 75 percent of the rural population, an additional 1.3 million, many of whom now rely on water trucked in as infrequently as once every 10 days. Eventual goal: serve 90 percent of the population, $2.8 billion.

_Spend $130 million to construct 10 major irrigation and drainage projects.

_Use $125 million to rebuild railroad tracks.

_Start building at least 3,528 new houses next year as part of a $100 million housing initiative.

_Designate $150 million to start building a new children's hospital in Basra.

_Spend $35 million to subsidize on-the-job training for private businesses.

 
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