Iraq is making letters of credit available to foreign contractors that have so far been reluctant to participate in dozens of planned water and sewerage projects worth billions of US dollars. The government is also making visas for business executives easier to obtain to encourage contractors to participate in projects in Iraq, where violence remains a problem. Even though levels of violence are not close to 2006-7 levels, when the monthly death toll sometimes exceeded 3,000 people, around 800 Iraqis were killed in August according to UN estimates. This deters foreign firms and workers, who are also reluctant to work on much-needed infrastructure projects in Iraq because of its slow bureaucratic procedures and unstable political environment. But according to officials the opportunities are great. Over the next two to three years, they anticipate awarding contracts for projects worth US$1.5 billion annually in the water and sewerage sector. Companies will be invited to tender for projects from 2014 onwards. Those awarded contracts may also be able to benefit from L/Cs provided by the Iraqi government to be used to import equipment and other supplies.