Dollars and Dinars; National Payment Program Begins in Al Hillah Province

2 Jun 2003 | Capt. T.R. Klysa

In Al-Mutawara High School's steamy auditorium, 30 headmasters representing 1161 local elementary school teachers waited, sometimes less than patiently, to collect their first monthly salary payment since April. The teachers are the first of 37,000 civil servants in Al Hillah province who will be paid in June as part of a national payment program administered by the U.S. military authority in Iraq.U.S. Army and Marine Corps civil affairs personnel supervised as Iraqi Education Directorate officials and accountants counted out bundles of crisp new 10,000 Dinar notes, notes still bearing the portrait of deposed leader Saddam Hussein. According to Major Robert N. Jones, 304th Civil Affairs Brigade and acting "finance minister" for Al Hillah province, there are no immediate plans for the creation of new dinar notes. "I would love to design one but that is best left up to the new Iraqi government." He said the design of dinar notes will be left up to a yet-to-be-formed committee of Iraqi officials. Given the continued chaos in Baghdad, new gravure plates are low on the list of priorities for New Iraq.In the meantime, Saddam continues to live in the form of a patronizing gaze staring out of a 10,000 dinar note, the denomination itself controversial."Nobody likes them," said Jones. "They existed but were rarely used." The currency of choice, at the ice cream stand, in the markets and butcher shop is the tattered 250 dinar note. Typically a 10,000 dinar note is worth 7000 dinar in the crazy mixed up world or Iraq's post war economy. "It doesn't make any sense," said Jones. Printing presses in Baghdad are printing out 1.5 million dinar notes per day, in an effort to make the 10,000 dinar note more spendable according to Jones.In addition to the salary payments, the headmasters also lined up to collect the $20 USD stipend or "gift", provided by the U.S. government. According to Gysgt Mark D. Klein, U.S. Marine Civil Affairs personnel have distributed over $546,000 USD in Al Hillah province since the program began here in early May.