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A Region of pensioners

1/24/2020 2:37:25 PM

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Ahmed Abdulla
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There was a sense among some observers that many lawmakers in the Kurdistan Region were against the pension reform bill, especially those who are young and will not retire soon. But they voted in favor, as demanded by the government, completing the first step of making this a region of pensioners who only interested in doing what benefits themselves.

The bill was hailed as a necessary reform by organizing salary payments, eliminating ghost employees, and cutting out illegal salaries. But in reality, this is a kind of reform two-step because it adds maximum private privileges and supplies pensions for all of the lawmakers, ministers, and senior political leaders without taking age or tenure in the public sector into consideration.  The bill is neither reform nor does it supply social justice. It is regressive legislation.

The vote earlier this month took place before the government solved big financial issues, such as creating transparency about oil revenues. Moreover no one knows about whether or not the government will repay public sector workers the parts of their salaries that it withheld. It can be said in simple words that this bill only represents reform in name in only and is not a genuine attempt to make government function better.

While lawmakers from the tripartite government voted in favor of the bill, it was criticized by opposition parties. New Generation left the Parliament chamber and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Islamic Group (KIG) abstained from voting. But this document will be remembered in history as a point where the government parties were willing to enrich themselves in the name of reform, while rejecting calls for minimum pension of 500,000 Iraqi dinars per month for public sector workers that would provide a reasonable life.

If the bill is approved by President of Kurdistan Region without providing important guarantees to public sector employees concerning their salaries, pensions and allowances, it will reinforce the idea that those who make the laws are entitled to public benefits and are rewarded and protected appropriately.

 

Ahmed Abdulla is a journalist and translator who graduated from the English department at University of Sulaimani.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and or those quoted and do not necessarily reflect those of NRT.