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PUK, Gorran stress forming decision-making KRG delegation for salary talks with Iraqi gov’t

Welcome steps on devolution in Kurdistan Region
Delegations from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement meet in Dabashan area north of Sulaimani city, Kurdistan Region, Iraq on November 29, 2020. (Photo Credit: NRT Digital Media)
2020-11-29

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SULAIMANI — Delegations from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement (Gorran) on Sunday (November 29) emphasized on the necessity of forming a decision-making delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to resume talks with Iraqi Government officials in Baghdad regarding the outstanding issues related to salary of the Kurdistan Region’s public servants and budget share.

In April, the federal government cut off all budget transfers to the KRG after the latter failed to send any of the 250,000 barrels of oil per day that it is required to under the 2019 federal budget law. The cut-off caused heavy burden on the cash-strapped KRG to pay its civil servants on time and full over the months.

The two sides reached a temporary agreement in early August where Baghdad would send 320 billion Iraqi dinars, in return for bringing customs procedures at the Region’s international border crossings under federal control.

During a meeting in Dabashan area north of Sulaimani city, both parties’ delegations debated the poor livelihood of the Region’s people and public sector employees generated by the ongoing financial crisis and the spread of COVID-19 pandemic compounded by the recent passage of the Iraqi loan law by the Council of Representatives, according to a joint statement.

The PUK delegation was headed by Co-Presidents Lahur Sheikh Jangi and Bafel Talabani, while the Gorran delegation headed by General Coordinator Omar Said Ali.

KRG paid the last salary on October 15 with eighteen percent cut, while salaries paid in July and August were slashed by twenty-one percent.

On November 12, the federal legislature approved the Fiscal Deficit Financing bill to fill deficits through borrowing 12 trillion Iraqi dinars (some $10 billion) in internal and external loans to finance the salary payments to public servants and other expenditures for the last three months in 2020. The Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the floor debate.

According to the legislation, the KRG should commit to hand over non-oil revenues and an amount of barrels of oil per day (bpd) to the federal government that will be determined by the SOMO in order to receive an amount of money in return to pay its civil servants.

On November 15, Iraqi government Spokesperson Ahmed Mulla Talal said that his government was still committed to transfer of 320 billion Iraqi dinars on a monthly basis as per the Iraqi budget law for 2019.

“We are welcoming the steps taken in proceeding the administrative and financial decentralization like how it has come in the agenda of the ninth [KRG] cabinet],” read the statement of the endeavors taken regarding the devolution of KRG power to the provincial council.

In an unreachable move, KRG said on November 25 said that it had decided to send a formal letter to Iraq’s Council of Ministers and demand the Kurdistan Region’s budget share for May, June, July, and October.

(NRT Digital Media)