Kur­dish MPs call for their de­mands to be con­sid­ered in the Bud­get Bill

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

A Kur­dish mem­ber of the Iraqi Coun­cil of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives an­nounced that a num­ber of Kur­dish MPs met with Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nuri Al Ma­liki to dis­cuss their con­cerns about the coun­try’s draft bud­get for 2014.

A Kur­dish mem­ber of the Iraqi Coun­cil of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives an­nounced that a num­ber of Kur­dish MPs met with Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nuri Al Ma­liki to dis­cuss their con­cerns about the coun­try’s draft bud­get for 2014.

Azad Sresh­mayee, a mem­ber of the Kur­dis­tani Al­liance Bloc in the Iraqi Par­lia­ment, says the meet­ing was pos­i­tive and that there were many com­mon points and agree­ment be­tween the two par­ties.

“We dis­cussed the is­sue of the de­lay in ap­prov­ing the bud­get law and asked the Prime Min­is­ter to agree to Kur­dish de­mands to in­clude the bud­get for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Ar­ti­cle 140 of the Iraqi Con­sti­tu­tion,” Sresh­mayee said.

The MP also said they had talked about the de­lay in ap­prov­ing the coun­try’s 97% oil-de­pen­dent bud­get, while the es­ti­mates for this year’s oil rev­enues are not yet clear. PM Ma­liki has re­port­edly asked for the sup­port of the Kurds in this re­gard.

“We don’t have any is­sues with the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment and we don’t in­tend to cre­ate gaps be­tween the two gov­ern­ments, although there are some who would like to seize upon this op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate gaps be­tween us,” Ma­liki told the Kur­dish MPs. “The KRG’s share in the bud­get will be 17%.”

Na­jiba Na­jib, a Kur­dish Mem­ber of the Iraqi Par­lia­ment’s Fi­nance and Eco­nomics Com­mit­tee, on the other hand, said the de­lays in ap­prov­ing the bud­get would have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the Iraqi govern­ment and the coun­try.

“This is the first time that the bud­get ap­proval has been de­layed so much at the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters, which is against the con­sti­tu­tion,” Na­jib said. “The Speaker of Par­lia­ment sent a dead­line to PM Ma­liki to­day [14 Jan­uary, 2014].”

While stat­ing that it is still un­clear whether the KRG’s share of the bud­get has de­creased or not, Na­jib said the visit by Prime Min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani to Bagh­dad was very pos­i­tive. He also noted that a high-rank­ing KRG del­e­ga­tion is set to visit Bagh­dad to dis­cuss the pend­ing is­sues be­tween the KRG and the cen­tral govern­ment re­gard­ing the bud­get and other is­sues, such as KRG oil ex­ports.

She hoped this visit would solve most of the pend­ing is­sues.

Sheikh Fatih Daraghayee, an­other Kur­dish MP in Bagh­dad, this time from the Is­lamic Com­mu­nity Block, warned about the con­se­quences of de­lays in the bud­get ap­proval process, which he be­lieves will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the projects.

“The draft has yet to be ap­proved by the Min­is­te­rial Coun­cil and sub­mit­ted to the Par­lia­ment,” Daraghayee told a lo­cal Kur­dish daily news­pa­per. “Although there are ru­mors that the draft will be sent to Par­lia­ment within a week, I don’t think Min­is­te­rial Coun­cil will sub­mit the draft within the next two weeks.”

Ac­cord­ing to Daraghayee, the dis­agree­ment be­tween the blocs about the draft is one fac­tor in the de­lay. In ad­di­tion, Ma­liki wants to de­lay the process with a view to even­tu­ally de­lay­ing the na­tional elec­tions, MP Daraghayee says.

This Kur­dish MP also ar­gues that “Although the KRG del­e­ga­tion’s visit to Bagh­dad would help solve some is­sues, the is­sues be­tween the two gov­ern­ments are too nu­mer­ous and se­ri­ous to be solved by a visit or two.”

“We, as the Is­lamic Com­mu­nity Bloc, will share a united voice with all the other Kur­dish Blocs on the key is­sues and will not vote for the bud­get un­less Kur­dish de­mands are ad­dressed in the bud­get.”

Iraq’s 2014 bud­get bill has been wait­ing for Coun­cil of Min­is­ters ap­proval for a while now, and dis­agree­ments about the draft, in­clud­ing the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion’s share of the fed­eral bud­get, are a key fac­tor be­hind the de­lays.

Ac­cord­ing to Dler Tariq, Spokesper­son of the KRG’s Min­istry of Fi­nance and Econ­omy, the KRG’s share of Iraq’s 2014 bud­get has been re­duced by more than IQD 2 tril­lion (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 2 bil­lion) from its orig­i­nal es­ti­mate of IQD 18.7 tril­lion.

The KRG’s Min­istry of Fi­nance is there­fore re­vis­ing the Re­gion’s draft bud­get for 2014 to re­flect the de­crease in its fed­eral bud­get share and to re­duce the bud­gets of the min­istries and other KRG in­sti­tu­tions ac­cord­ingly.

Tariq also added that this num­ber has yet to be fi­nal­ized, and that there may still be ad­di­tional amend­ments be­fore Iraq’s bud­get is fi­nally ap­proved.

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