ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish government on Sunday called on the Iraqi Council of Ministers not to approve the 2018 budget bill, labeling it 'unconstitutional,' and criticizing the Iraqi Finance Ministry for drafting it without involving the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The Council is expected to meet and discuss the draft budget the same day the KRG urged ministers not to pass the bill. Erbil claims it violates the 2014 No. 95 federal law and articles of 105, 106, and 121 of the Iraqi Constitution, which guarantees the participation of the KRG in planning the budget, the Kurdish Council of Ministers said in a statement.
The Kurdish government also criticized the bill for mentioning the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as “the provinces of northern Iraq,” and calling the KRG the “government of the provinces,” as well as its other institutions and ministries “provincial authorities.”
The statement asserts that the aforementioned designations violate articles 117 and 121 of the Iraqi Constitution, which officially recognize the Kurdistan Region and the KRG’s related authorities as a federal region in the country.
The KRG expressed deep concern over the federal budget share for the Kurdistan Region decreasing for 2018, from 17 percent to 12.67, yet again in contradiction of article 121 of the constitution.
The statement added that it is the lowest budget share assigned to the Kurdistan Region since 2005. According to Iraq's Constitution, the Kurdistan Region has more autonomy than provinces that are not organized in regions.
The Council affirmed that giving authority directly to the provinces of the Kurdistan Region and dealing with the Kurdistan Region as provinces, not as a regional government, was unconstitutional and an attempt to dissolve the KRG.
The KRG emphasized article 126 of the constitution which does not allow the Federal Government of Iraq to limit or reduce the constitutional rights and authorities of the Kurdistan Region and prevents any amendment that would curtail the constitutional rights of the Region.
The statement revealed that the number of KRG employees recognized in the federal budget had been reduced by Baghdad, from 1,249,481 to 682,021, and that the salary share had been adjusted accordingly.
The KRG labeled the draft budget a “collective punishment against the people of the Kurdistan Region,” and called on the Iraqi government to agree to a dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad, specifically in drafting the bill.
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated following the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum, which the central government labeled unconstitutional and illegal.
Editing by Nadia Riva