KRG says funds provided by Baghdad not enough for salaries

بەلاڤ بکە

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Monday said the funds provided by the Iraqi federal government to the Region’s share in the budget were not enough to pay salaries, describing the budget as “vengeful.” 

Meetings between delegations from the KRG and the federal government have been ongoing over the past months, aimed at resolving lingering disputes over the Region’s share in the federal budget. On Sunday, Baghdad decided to send 500 billion Iraqi dinars (close to $382 billion) for the salaries of the public servants of the Region.

“The Kurdistan Regional Government since the first visit on January 30 until the latest on August 30, continued its efforts to make the Iraqi government comply with its commitments to the Kurdistan Region,” Pehsawa Hawramani, the spokesperson of the KRG, said during a televised address in Erbil.

Hawramani said that the amount of money is insufficient as the Region needs 940 billion Iraqi dinars ($717 billion), despite the KRG abiding by all its commitments.

Iraq passed its highly contentious budget bill in June for the years 2023, 2024, and 2025, of which the Kurdistan Region’s share is 12.6 percent.
“The Iraqi government has not abided by its agreements with the Kurdistan Region… not only it has not sent the share of the Kurdistan Region, it also did not send the salaries of the public servants,” Hawramani said.

“We feel like this is a policy of starvation,” he added.

Awat Sheikh Janab, the KRG’s finance minister said during the same press conference the Kurdistan Region’s financial rights “have been violated,” adding that the negotiations have not borne any fruitful results so they have resorted to a loan mechanism. 

Omed Sabah, the chief of staff of the KRG slammed the approved budget bill and labeled it as “vengeful”, and said that the already “bad” bill is aggravated by the bad understanding from the Iraqi finance ministry to implement the law.

“The financial rights of the Kurdistan Region [within the budget] are approximately 16 trillion dinars. However after all of the discussions, the Iraqi finance ministry says your rights are only 8 trillion dinars,” Sabah said. 

The share of the Kurdistan region in the federal budget has been a point of contention between Baghdad and Erbil. 

The recently-passed budget includes a record $152 billion in spending, which has sparked concerns of instability should oil prices drop below the $70 per barrel threshold set in the bill. 

Iraq did not approve a new budget bill in 2022 amid political uncertainty after the 2021 election. The lack of a budget jeopardized the oil-dependent economy and prevented the government from taking advantage of soaring oil prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine to combat poverty and bring much-needed economic stability.