Kurdistan Region authorities concerned about changes to budget bill

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdistan Region’s authorities and the KDP ruling party are concerned about the recent modifications to the Kurdistan Region’s related articles in the Federal draft budget bill.

The changes introduced in Articles 13 and 14 encompass a range of modifications. These include the assignment of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) with the responsibility of selling oil from the Kurdistan Region.

Additionally, the duration for Erbil to repay its debts has been reduced from seven years to five. Furthermore, a dedicated account has been established within the Iraqi central bank to manage the oil revenues generated by the Kurdistan Region. The finance minister has now been granted the authority to authorize withdrawals from this account by the Region’s prime minister, a role previously held by the Iraqi prime minister according to the initial draft.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said that a group in the Iraqi parliament’s finance committee have introduced changes to the draft federal budget, violating the agreement with the Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s government.

“The agreement is the bedrock for cooperation between Erbil & Baghdad and the word of parties to it must be honored,” Barzani tweeted.

President Nechirvan Barzani also expressed his concern, saying that “We are deeply concerned about the alterations in the Iraqi budget bill that relate to the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region and we reject them completely. The move creates an obstacle to the budget bill that all Iraqis hope to be passed for the next three years.”

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) denounced the Iraqi Parliament’s finance committee’s changes to the budget bill, calling them unconstitutional and against the agreed-upon agreement between Erbil and Baghdad. The KRG stated that it will only adhere to the decisions that have been previously agreed upon.

“The Kurdistan Regional Government firmly rejects oppressive measures that infringe upon the rights of the Kurdish people,” read a statement from the KRG.

The changes to the budget bill come at a time of heightened tensions between Erbil and Baghdad. In recent months, the two sides have been at odds over a number of issues, including the export of oil from the Kurdistan Region, the distribution of federal funds, and the control of border crossings. However, the disputes were hoped to be resolved by a recent agreement between Erbil and Baghdad.

The passage of the budget bill is seen as essential for Iraq’s economic recovery. The country is facing a number of challenges, including a high unemployment rate, a large refugee population, and a fragile security situation.

Amid the recent modifications in the Kurdistan-related articles, the scheduled Saturday session of the Iraqi Parliament to vote on the budget bill for the years 2023, 2024, and 2025 has been delayed. The outcome of whether the Iraqi parliament will successfully approve the budget bill, considering the proposed changes, remains uncertain. This development is likely to exacerbate existing tensions between Erbil and Baghdad.

 

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