ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi claims every week that he will send the salaries of public employee’s in the Kurdistan Region, but keeps delaying it, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament said on Saturday.
“Abadi, on a weekly basis, says he will send the salaries of the Kurdistan Region’s public employees, but he hasn’t sent them. We hope he does,” Arez Abdulla, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) faction in the Iraqi Parliament, said during a press conference in Erbil.
The Iraqi Prime Minister has repeatedly mentioned that Baghdad is auditing the number of public employees within the ministries of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), stating the process “takes time” while assuring he will send the salaries.
“Abadi continues to delay his promise to send the payment. If he intended to do so, he would have sent the salaries of the KRG employees for January and February as well as hold the KRG responsible for any issues that might have appeared,” Abdulla added.
He also noted that Abadi did not want to launch a direct dialogue with Erbil, aiming to put more pressure on the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdish lawmaker claimed the Iraqi Prime Minister was intentionally using auditing as an excuse to delay salaries until parliamentary and provincial elections in May.
During a recent weekly press briefing in Erbil, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani confirmed that Baghdad had not sent the salaries of any KRG employee.
Regarding the 2018 Iraqi budget bill pushed forward by Abadi, Abdulla said he believed the bill would not receive enough votes in the Iraqi Parliament to be approved.
“The bill is so bad that not only the Kurds but also the representatives of Sunni areas and Basra Province are against it,” he continued. “There must be an agreement, but if there are no direct talks, how can an agreement be made?”
The Kurdish legislator said Kurdish lawmakers, who total 60 out of 328, all agree that they would not vote for the bill unless the Kurdistan Region’s budget share is increased from 12 to 17 percent.
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated following the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum, which saw an overwhelming majority vote for statehood.
The Iraqi government has since imposed a series of collective punitive measures on Kurdistan, including banning international flights to the Region’s airports.
On Saturday, a KRG delegation led by Interior Minister Karim Sinjari (Shingali) visited Baghdad to meet with Iraqi ministers and discuss lifting the airport ban as well as the administration of border crossings.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany