ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday said that the budget share allocated to the Kurdistan Region in the 2018 draft bill would not be amended, calling on the Iraqi Parliament to approve it as is.
“The share allocated to the Kurdistan Region in the draft federal budget is settled. It is not subject to change,” Abadi told reporters during his weekly press briefing in Baghdad.
“I urge parliament to approve the draft 2018 federal budget as soon as possible; any delay impacts our citizens and affects the delivery of public services,” he added.
The Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, has voiced his opposition to the bill, stating the draft violates the constitutional rights of the region.
The bill violates the 2014 No. 95 federal law, and articles of 105, 106, and 121 of the Iraqi Constitution, which guarantees the participation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in planning the budget, the Kurdish Council of Ministers has previously argued.
The Kurdish government also criticized the bill for calling the Kurdistan Region of Iraq “the provinces of northern Iraq,” and designating the KRG the “government of the provinces,” as well as its other institutions and ministries as “provincial authorities.”
A statement issued in response to Baghdad’s political maneuvring asserted that the designations mentioned above violate articles 117 and 121 of the Iraqi Constitution which officially recognize the Kurdistan Region and the KRG’s related authorities as a semi-autonomous region within federal Iraq.
The KRG also expressed grave concerns over the federal budget share for the Kurdistan Region shrinking in 2018, from 17 percent to 12.67 percent, once again in contravention of article 121 of the constitution.
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 by Baghdad to dissolve the KRG.
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.
Following the vote, which saw 93 percent of voters favoring statehood, the Federal Government of Iraq implemented a series of collective punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region. These ranged from an international flight ban on the region’s airports to the use of military force in the takeover of the oil-rich and diverse province of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, which had until recently been under the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
Editing by Nadia Riva