Kurdish government pledges year of ‘reform and modernization’
In an attempt to overcome a financial crisis and stabilize the economy, the Kurdish government launched the first step of its wide-ranging reform program starting with the restructuring of the finance ministry.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said the reform program starts with modernizing the finance ministry, which would be a stepping-stone for further reform in all other sectors.
Barzani said that his cabinet was committed to strengthening the financial and administrative sector that would include redrawing the work of public banks and throwing full support behind the private sector.
He is committed to open and transparent governance, he added.
“This will help us create a sustainable and modern economy,” said Barzani. “And it will create a healthy and competitive job and investment environment.”
Speaking to a group of cabinet ministers, investors and politicians in Erbil on Wednesday, the prime minister said that the Kurdistan Region is working on an all-encompassing reform plan to help the region move beyond its current crisis and encourage growth.
From 2006-2014 there was more than $30 billion worth of investment in the Kurdistan Region, $5 billion of it foreign investment, which went hand-in-hand with social development, said Barzani.
“But in the meantime we have to look back on our mistakes and opportunities for reform which we failed to seize on time,” he said.
“This will be the year of reform and modernization,” vowed the prime minister.
“We will pursue a policy of poverty reduction and strengthening of the production sector,” he said. Barzani said that the reform program would work with professional syndicates, investors and academics.
The Kurdish government has been under severe financial strain for almost two years after Baghdad blocked its share of the national budget. The sharp decline in oil prices, Erbil’s main source of income, has also hurt.
As part of its reform plan, the Kurdish government will take austerity measures, which includes a temporary reduction in civil servant salaries while urging that the international community should help lessen Erbil’s burden by shouldering some of the Peshmerga expenses.
“The financial situation is the biggest threat to the Kurdistan Region,” said Barzani. “I therefore ask the coalition countries to actively support the Kurdistan Region financially. Our brave Peshmerga and the people expect that of our allies.”