ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Baghdad is ready to pay the salaries of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) employees after the Region hands over its oil exports to the federal government, said the top Iraqi official on Tuesday.
During his weekly press conference, Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi said that the KRG’s 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.
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.
Abadi stated that he suspects the number of government employees and Peshmerga fighters provided by the KRG are incorrect and suggested the departments be audited.
On Monday, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, said the KRG was ready to hand over the Region’s oil and other sources of revenues to Baghdad if the Federal Government of Iraq agreed to send the full 17 percent of the budget to the Kurdistan Region.
Barzani criticized Baghdad for decreasing its share of the budget for yet another year, with the 2018 draft recently ratified by the Iraqi Council of Ministers. The Kurdish leadership has regularly complained Baghdad failed to provide it with its fair share of the budget and as a result, opted to sign its own oil agreements in 2014, just before the start of the war against the Islamic State (IS).
Editing by Nadia Riva