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Baghdad, Erbil to Discuss Salaries Issue of Kurdistan Region Employees

Baghdad, Erbil to Discuss Salaries Issue of Kurdistan Region Employees

Tuesday, 2 June, 2020 - 09:00
A general view in Erbil, Iraq (File photo: Reuters)
Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi federal government continue to negotiate the “pending issues” between Erbil and Baghdad, notably that of “oil in exchange for salaries” that emerged four years ago.

The current circumstances in Iraq forced both governments to postpone discussing issues that were described as “fateful” to the Kurds, such as the disputed areas under Article 140 of 2005 and the bill law of oil and gas of 2007.

The two governments were supposed to resume discussions on the salaries issue after Eid el-Fitr, however, they have not started yet.

The cabinets also haven’t agreed on names for the vacant ministries in Mustafa Kadhimi’s government, two of which are for the Kurds.

They aim to reach a binding agreement regarding Kurdistan’s pledge to pay the dues of 250 thousand barrels of oil exported to Baghdad, in exchange for the latter paying the salaries of the region's employees.

However, the Finance Minister, Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi, decided to pay $350 million to KRG creating controversy among parliamentary and political circles in Baghdad.

Basra governorate MP Uday Awad called for supporting the demands of al-Basra region which has been marginalized, while the Kurdistan region received unlimited support.

Member of the parliamentary integrity committee Yousef al-Kalabi announced in a statement that the government granted Kurdistan the money without any rights.

Kalabi, representing the lawmakers who filed the complaint against the Finance Ministry, said that while the country goes through the most difficult health, economic, and political conditions, the government violates the law and grants KRG an amount of $350 million.

He called upon the public prosecutor to take action and file a complaint against the Ministry, while obliging the central bank to withhold the funds.

In response to the allegations, the Finance Ministry said in a statement that some media outlets published misleading information about the funds, explaining that the amount is allocated for KRG’s expenses, including April’s public salaries.

The Ministry asserted its commitment to laws, indicating that the money was given according to the agreement with the Kurdistan region, which called for intensive meetings between representatives of both governments in June to agree on a final settlement.

Meanwhile, KRG’s Finance Ministry denied receiving from Baghdad’s federal government the funds allocated to pay the salaries of the region’s public servants, despite the Prime Minister’s approval.

The ministry issued a statement saying that despite the difficult situation and the region's revenues dropping significantly, KRG was able to pay the salaries from oil revenues.

Head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) bloc, Vian Sabri, indicated that due to the repercussions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, drop of oil prices, and lack of 2020 budget law, some illegal and unconstitutional measures were taken.

Sabri told Asharq Al-Awsat that KRG’s delegation met in Baghdad with officials of the federal government and finance ministry where it was agreed to send $350 million to the Kurdistan region for April dues.

The agreement stipulated that the two governments will enter into intensive negotiations within one month of sending the funds to Kurdistan, she announced, adding that they hope to reach a final settlement.

Sabri announced that KRG will visit the federal government next week, noting that it is a positive indication of both cabinets aiming to agree on all unresolved issues according to the constitution and without the employees’ pensions.

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