27 May 2004 | Andrew Golder
Ten per cent of the money spent on rebuilding Iraq is going to security companies protecting workers in the war-torn state.
The news emerged as Amec, one of Britain's project management firms, said security was the main driver of procurement processes for construction companies working in Iraq amid escalating violence, despite the presence of allied troops.
But security firms working in the country say they are having no problems finding trained staff, with UK based ArmorGroup accepting 30 applicants a week.
Amec warned it could not guarantee how much work could be carried out on its £1.6 billion reconstruction contracts this year because of the recent spate of murders and kidnappings.
It was awarded US-funded reconstruction work in March in conjunction with American partner Flour Daniel.
But soaring security costs - some companies are hiring two bodyguards for each employee in Iraq - are driving overheads higher than ever. The coalition's programme management office in Baghdad estimates that 10 per cent of the $18.4 billion earmarked for investment in Iraq is going straight to security firms and contractors.
Nick Welsh, an Amec spokesman, refused to disclose details of its supply chain operation for security reasons.
But he told SM: "We have a very thorough security team in Iraq that advises us on a daily and hourly basis.
"We listen carefully to what they say and their advice determines whether we carry out operations at a given time and date."