KRG spokesperson talks about fuel price increase
The decision by the Kurdistan Regional Government, at the end of August, to increase the price of gasoline from IQD 800 (approximately US$ 0.65) per liter to IQD 900, led to massive public outcry and demonstrations in some cities and towns across Kurdistan Region. Safeen Dizayee, official spokesperson of the KRG published a statement at the government’s official website explaining the rationale behind the decision.
Dizayee stated: “The Kurdistan Parliament, honored members of the industry, energy and natural resources committee of the parliament, and everybody know very well the fact that: 1. Regional Government is forced to spend millions of dollars every day in the war for the needs of the Peshmarga Forces who fight against ISIS; 2. Since January this year, the Iraqi government has cut Kurdistan’s budget share, which has become the main factor behind the financial crisis in the Region; 3. All of the revenues from oil sales cannot even cover the government salaries, which is more than IQD 850 billion (approximately US$ 650 million); 4. The government has a huge burden of managing and helping some 1.4 million Syrian and Iraqi and Kurdish IDPs, which is similar to adding one more province to the region; 5. This situation has, in some places such as Kirkuk, led to increase in gasoline price up to IQD 1,200 (approximately US$1); 6. While deciding the price for public transportation vehicles such as taxis and buses, which is IQD500 (approximately US$0.42) per liter, and the kerosene price of IQD 160 (approximately US$0.12) per liter, we have considered the low-income and poor people.”
Dizayee also added that the situation is outside our control and wish, otherwise the government always tries, as it has tried before, to provide fuel, especially gasoline at a very low price to the public, but “in such hard situations and due to this financial crisis and the points explained above, the gov- ernment cannot sell fuel at previous prices, since it cannot subsidize fuel by an amount of US$5billion per year.”
KRG spokesperson says his government has spent US$1.15b only on providing fuel for traffic sector, and it is not fair that all these expenditures are ignored and the government is blamed only for gasoline.
The KRG official also claimed that government needs to seek a solution to reduce all the support it gives for fuel subsidies, otherwise in the future it will not be able to meet its financial burden such as paying salaries and significant public expendi- tures. “All of these issues have led to this increase in fuel prices and all the relevant parties inside the Parliament, government and political groups know these facts,” Dizayee argued. “Even any observer can easily understand the situation. The decision regarding fuel prices is a joint decision of all the participating parties of the government. Any statement against this by any one is nothing but an attempt to score some cheap political points.”
Dizayee concluded that till this crisis is over, the government cannot reduce fuel prices, since it has other priorities such as protecting the security and lives of its people and stability of the region.
“Whenever the crisis is over and problems solved, the government will definitely find an acceptable solution for the fuel crisis. ”