Kurdistan Parliament’s priority is to end public sector salary cuts: deputy speaker

Kurdistan Parliament Deputy Speaker Hemin Hawrami (File)

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SULAIMANI — Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament Hemin Hawrami said on Wednesday (April 14) that one of the legislature’s priorities was to end cuts to public sector salaries and to ensure that they are distributed on time, but warned that it would depend on implementation of the 2021 Federal Budget Law.

“Within the next few days, we will see the degree to which the federal government will abide by the [budget] agreement, especially in terms of sending [the Region’s share] for the first three months and for the coming months,” Hawrami said during a session of Parliament.

He noted that Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, and other KRG officials have said that Erbil plans to abide by the agreement.

According to the terms of the law, the KRG is required to send 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day to federal oil marketer SOMO for export, along with a percentage of customs income from the international border crossings with Iran and Turkey. In return, the federal government will send monthly cash transfers that will enable the KRG to pay salaries.

Since last March, the KRG has struggled to pay its employees because of low oil prices, the coronavirus pandemic, and budget disagreements with Baghdad.

It missed monthly salary disbursements entirely five times and cut most others by either twenty-one or eighteen percent, which put significant economic stress on the Region’s middle class. The three disbursements so far this year have each been cut by twenty-one percent.

KRG Minister of Finance and Economy told NRT on Tuesday that the government hoped to pay salaries in full, but, similarly to Hawrami, hedged by saying it depended on implementation of the budget.

(NRT Digital Media)