Just how much money was raised for Iraq at the international donors conference which ended in Madrid on Friday evening? The target, calculated by the World Bank and the United States adminisration, was US$55 billion over five years. The most frequently quoted claim following the conference was for $13 billion to which the US's own pledge of $20 billion (subject to Congressional approval) has to be added., making a total of $33 billion. Despite the apparent shortfall of $22 billion compared to the target figure, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the result was satisfactory, especially since estimates of what would be raised had been lower. However, the true figure of what was actually put on the table at the Madrid conference may be much lower - as low as $3 to $4 billion. This is because few of the pledges were for grants that will produce hard cash to spend on the water, power, health care and other systems devastated by the UK/US invasion six months ago. Instead a range of loan arrangements, import credits, relief assistance and other offers outside the scope of the conference, were made; they are difficult to quantify and their eventual delivery in whole or part may be uncertain. Nearly 80 countries were represented in Madrid so the response cannot be called generous. Arab nations were not prominent among the donors Saudi Arabia offered $1 billion in low-cost loans and Kuwait pledged $500 million. Japan was the biggest single contributor with $5 billion, in grants and loans; the European Union committed $931 million, less than it gave to Afghanistan last year; Britain added $835 million and Spain chipped-in with $300 million - rather less than might have been expected from the host country.
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