KRG asks Baghdad to provide funds to repay withheld salaries: spokesperson

Amid budget manouvering
The spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Jutyar Adil speaks during a press conference on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. (Photo Credit : NRT Digital Media)

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SULAIMANI – Spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Jutyar Adil claimed on Wednesday (September 11) that Baghdad has cut off the Region’s salaries, but also said that it has requested help repaying the salaries of public sector workers that it withehhld during the financial crisis.

Under the 2019 Federal Budget Law, Baghdad is required to send 12.67 percent of the federal budget to Erbil in return for 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The KRG has so far failed to meet its obligations and, in response, Baghdad cut transfers and is only sending enough to pay public sector salaries.

As recently as last month, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said that the salaries were continuing to come, while taking a stronger line about whether other cuts may be coming if the situation continues.

Even though Baghdad continues to make transfers, public employees have reported delays in receiving their salaries from the KRG's ministries, prompting outcry from opposition lawmakers.

The KRG spokesperson also called on Baghdad to provide between $8 billion and $9 billion in funding so the KRG can repay what it withheld from its employees under an austerity measure.

In 2016, Erbil put in place a system where it withheld a portion of the monthly salaries of public sector employees, promising to pay it back after the financial crisis was over.

Partially in response to the passage of the 2019 Federal Budget Law, the KRG scrapped the measure in March 2019, but has not taken significant steps so far to repay those withheld wages.

In similar language, KRG officials have started advocating that Baghdad take on elements of the Region's debt in recent weeks.

“The base of the new government’s agenda is reform in all sectors,” he added.

(NRT Digital Media)