HEADLINES:

After weeks of delay, Iraq’s Council of Representatives passes budget for 2021

Kurdistan Region receives 9.5 trillion IQD as share
Iraq's Council of Representatives in Baghdad (File)
2021-03-31

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SULAIMANI — After weeks of delays caused by disagreements between the political parties, Iraq’s Council of Representatives passed the Federal 2021 Budget Law on Wednesday (March 31) .

The session was scheduled for 1 p.m. but was delayed because of a lack of quorum. Voting began at 4:30 p.m. in the presence of 215 lawmakers out of 325 and concluded at 8:00 p.m.

The legislation set the price of a barrel of oil at $42, well below current Brent prices.

Among the major sticking points was the devaluation of the Iraqi dinar. The legislation set the US dollar peg at 1,450 Iraqi dinars.

After several hours of voting, lawmakers approved Article 11 of the legislation, which governs the Kurdistan Region's share.

It will receive 9.5 trillion Iraqi dinars ($6.5 billion), which will be disbursed in monthly increments, in return for submitting 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Iraq's oil marketer SOMO for export. The federal government will be able to cut off funds in the event of non-compliance.

A number of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials, including KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, were present at the Council of Representatives during the latter stages of the vote on the legislation to observe. Talabani led many of the talks aimed at hammering out the deal between Erbil and Baghdad.

Lawmakers voted against Article 20 of the law, which would have introduced an income tax on the salaries of public sector workers, or Article 38, which deals with investment. Article 41 was tabled for consideration at a later date.

Also on the agenda is the presentation of a request submitted and signed by 172 lawmakers on whether to dissolve parliament early, but the meeting concluded without taking up the measure.

Before to the session, the Shia bloc held a meeting at the house of Hadi al-Amri, the head of the Fateh Alliance, to coordinate. The Finance Committee held a separate meeting to amend some of the provisions in the draft and ready it for the vote.

The parliament’s media office said in a statement on Tuesday that the names of attendees and absences will be published publicly.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 8:07 p.m. EBL