ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The 2018 budget bill for Iraq will adjust the percentage share going to the Kurdistan Region to reflect its population, a government spokesperson said on Saturday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s spokesman Saad al-Hadithi, according to Sputnik News, said the 2018 budget bill would include changes to the share dedicated to the Kurdistan Region “commensurate with the size of its population compared to that of the rest of Iraq.”
Baghdad reduced Erbil’s share of the federal budget three years ago, and a draft version of the bill indicated the Kurdistan Region would receive 12.6 percent, a significant drop from its previous 17 percent allocation.
“This ensures a fair distribution of the country’s wealth,” Hadithi said.
The government spokesman added that the budget was in the process of a final review with the Council of Ministers and that it would be sent to the Iraqi Parliament “within days.”
Earlier this month, Abadi said that the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) ask for a 17 percent budget share allocation for 2018 was "unfair" and "unjust," stating it should reflect the population of the Region in comparison to the rest of the country. Erbil argues that 12 percent barely covers the needs of one province.
The Kurdish leadership has repeatedly criticized Baghdad for decreasing its share of the budget for yet another year and without consulting Kurdish Members of the Iraqi Parliament, explaining that the number had been established for years and would require a census to justify the reduction.
The 17 percent budget share was agreed upon between the KRG and the Federal Government of Iraq during the transitional period after the fall of the regime in 2003. No census has been conducted in the country since the 1980s, but there are an estimated 7 to 8 million people in the Kurdistan Region representing between 17 and 20 percent of Iraq's population.
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.