ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish lawmakers in the Iraqi parliament are poised to combine efforts in standing against Baghdad’s continued slashing of the Kurdistan Region’s share of the national budget, reaffirming the need to represent the interests of the Kurds’ in the federal capital.
“As Kurdish representatives in parliament, we need to show a united stand” and defend the “financial rights and entitlements” of the region’s people, Hoshyar Abdullah, head of the Movement for Change (Gorran) faction in parliament, said in an interview with Kurdistan 24.
After the fall of the former Iraqi regime, the new government allocated 17 percent of its national budget to the Kurdistan Region. That amount was reduced, however, to just over 12 percent from 2014 onwards. For the 2019 draft budget bill, Baghdad’s outgoing government kept to the same policy despite people in the Kurdistan Region representing just under 14 percent of the population of Iraq.
Kurdish parties running in the national elections called for unity on the issue of the budget, among others, while campaigning and promised to address the rights of the Kurdistan Region through a “united front.”
“We hope the Kurdish entities abandon partisan agendas and adopt positions that serve the interests of the people of the Kurdistan Region,” reaffirmed Jwan Fawzi, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) faction in parliament, when speaking with Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday.
To this end, the various Kurdish factions met on Wednesday with second deputy parliamentary speaker and member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Bashir Haddad, to discuss possible measures in response to the draft budget bill.
“We agreed that a delegation of experts on budgetary policy from the Kurdistan Region should visit Baghdad at the soonest,” Haddad told Kurdistan 24, adding that it should “include the Minister of Finance, Minister of Planning, individuals experienced in drafting budget bills, and, if possible, representatives of the Kurdistan Region’s parliament.”
In Baghdad, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region’s officials, including lawmakers in the Iraqi parliament, “deliver the message, and budgetary policy goals of the Kurdistan Region,” Haddad argued.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(An earlier version of this article said the Kurdistan Region's population represented over 16 percent of Iraq, this has since been modified to reflect new numbers to just under 14 percent)