KRG finance ministry halts salaries of senior officials at Bashmakh border crossing

An undated photo of a general view of Bahsmakh border crossing in the Kurdistan Region borders Iran (File)

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SULAIMANI — Citing corruption and their failure to reign in smuggling, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Finance and Economy Ministry has suspended the salaries of directors of the Bashmakh Border Compound, the director of crossing’s Asayish unit, and a number of other employees.

On Friday, Change Movement (Gorran) lawmaker Daban Muhammad alleged that traders, truck drivers, and ordinary people moving thorough the crossing with Iran are subjected to blackmail and other corrupt activities and that officials have done little to prevent cross-border smuggling.

“If you have two chickens with you, they will take one from you. They facilitate cargo that is not taxed even in Iran, let alone in the [Kurdistan] Region,” Muhammad said, noting that MPs have transferred evidence of the corrupt activity to the prosecutor general.

Corruption and smuggling are a major problem at the Kurdistan Region’s border crossings, which are controlled by either the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has made reasserting state control over the country’s border crossings a policy priority of his government. The 320 billion Iraqi dinars ($269 million) that Baghdad sends to Erbil each month is contingent on the Region’s adherence with federal procedures.

 (NRT Digital Media)