Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Iraq adopts 2018 budget, cutting allocations for Kurds

Deputy Speaker Time for Kurds to withdraw from Iraq’s political process Kurdistan Parliament's Deputy Speaker Jaafar Imniki during an interview with Kurdistan 24
Patty Aguilar | 05 March, 2018, 03:12

The Iraqi parliament said Saturday that it endorsed a bill for the country's 2018 federal budget with about 77 billion USA dollars and a deficit of about 10 billion dollars.

According to Haidar, the amendments were adopted by the majority of votes with 176 lawmakers having participated in the parliament's session.

The new Iraqi national budget sparked angry words from the prime minister of the autonomous Kurdish region on Sunday, as a row over allocations placed further strain on Baghdad's already fragile relationship with Erbil. "We boycotted the vote and there are proposals for Kurdistan to withdraw from the entire political process in Iraq over the unfair treatment we have received", Kurdish lawmaker Ashwaq Jaff said.

The budget is based on projected oil exports of 3.9 million barrels per day, including 250,000 bpd produced in the Kurdistan autonomous region of northern Iraq, at a price of $46 per barrel.

The government said on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with the Kurds to resume Kirkuk oil exports through Turkey's Ceyhan port but gave no precise timeline.

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The deteriorating relationship between the central government and Kurdish region then took a turn for the worse in September a year ago when the KRG held an independence referendum that overwhelmingly backed secession from the rest of Iraq.

According to al-Yawaii, the central government wants to reduce the KRG's share of Iraq's annual budget from a current 17 percent to 12.6 percent. It was not immediately clear what effect the Kurdish boycott of the vote would have on that.

The unconstitutional poll prompted Baghdad to impose a raft of punitive sanctions on the KRG, including a ban on worldwide flights into and out of the Kurdish region. The areas include Iraq's second city Mosul.

Speaker Salim al-Jabouri said the budget addressed Kurdish concerns and that the federal government would pay the salaries of Kurdish civil servants and Peshmerga fighters, as well as welfare entitlements.

This will be Iraq's first budget since the country declared its victory against the ISIS terrorist group in 2017 after a three-year battle.

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