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Lawmaker of the Council of Representatives’ Finance Committee Ahmad Safar speaks to NRT TV Tawtwe interview program in Duhok, Kurdistan Region, Iraq on December 22, 2020.
SULAIMANI — Rapporteur of the Council of Representatives’ Finance Committee Ahmad Safar said on Tuesday (December 22) that the federal government will send 13 trillion Iraqi dinars ($10.92 billion) to the Kurdistan Region during the period covered by the 2021 Federal Budget law should it pass in its current form.
During an interview with NRT’s Tawtwe interview program, Safar said that suggestions that some lawmakers would try to transfer responsibility for paying the Kurdistan Region’s public sector workers to the federal government was just an “allegation.”
“Iraq has 4 million public sector employees and is not ready to pay salaries directly for the [Kurdistan] Region’s more than one million public servants,” said the lawmaker, who represents the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
“Erbil and Baghdad have reached an agreement about the draft 2021 Iraqi budget law, in which the Region should submit 250,000 barrels of oil and half of the income of the border crossings,” he said. “The Region’s delegation has promised to commit to the agreement with Baghdad in order to secure the salaries [of the Region’s public servants].”
However, Safar appeared to suggest that disagreements continue between the two sides, particularly regarding the oil issue.
“The Region’s oil deals are obstacles for handing oil over to Baghdad. If Iraq pays the fees of the oil companies, the Region is ready to hand oil over to Baghdad,” he said.
Safar also complained that the Region would not be getting sufficient funding for its needs, including support for the Peshmerga.
On Monday, the Council of Ministers approved and sent the draft 2021 federal budget bill to legislators for consideration and a vote, but rejected cuts in allowances for public sector workers.
Controversially, it also includes a devaluation of the Iraqi dinar, in order to protect the country’s dollar reserves.
Spending in the budget will total 150 trillion Iraqi dinars ($103 billion), but carry a deficit is 63 trillion dinars ($52.94 billion). The estimated price of oil is set at $42 per barrel.
Tensions between the KRG and the federal government deteriorated in April when Baghdad cut off all funding to the KRG following Erbil’s fifteen-month refusal to send oil to the federal government as it was required to under the 2019 Federal Budget Law.
As the KRG’s finances grew steadily worse and it was unable to pay public sector salaries on time and in full, anger with the authorities in Erbil increased, boiling over into public protests in Erbil and Duhok in the summer and early autumn and Sulaimani and Halabja this month.
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