For first time in more than year, public sector workers will be paid full salaries: KRG PM Barzani

A pile of Iraqi dinar banknotes (File)

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SULAIMANI — Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani announced on Sunday (July 25) that public sector workers will be paid their full salaries for the first time in more than a year.

Following a meeting of the KRG Council of Ministers, Barzani said that workers will be paid without cuts starting from July, if Baghdad continues to send money to the Region.

Under an agreement with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the KRG has begun to receive a monthly stipend of 200 billion Iraqi dinars ($137 million) per month.

The agreement, however, does not resolve major budget disagreements between Erbil and Baghdad, which have prevented the implementation of the 2021 Federal Budget Law. KRG officials are keen to note that the stipend is not the Region’s budget share.

Samir Hawrami, an advisor to KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, said that salary disbursements will begin on Monday.

During 2020, the KRG struggled to pay salaries to its public sector workers, missing five monthly disbursements entirely and cutting four others by nearly a quarter. Government employees have had their pay cut by twenty-one percent each month so far this year.

The cuts have had a significant effect on the economy of the Kurdistan Region because of the KRG’s role as the Region’s most important employer.

In a study on the economic impact of COVID-19, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) reported in June that monthly household employment income in the Kurdistan Region dropped by 31 percent between March and December 2020, which it attributed largely to the government salary cuts.

The drop was just twelve percent in federal Iraq.

Barzani acknowledged that the KRG is responsible of providing good living conditions and services to all citizens and sought to defend his government’s economic policies.

The KRG has more than $30 billion in debt and financial obligations, but no savings, Barzani reported last autumn.

(NRT Digital Media)