ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday said his government would lift the international flight ban on airports in the Kurdistan Region and send salaries of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) public employees before Newroz.
March 21 of every year marks the first day of Newroz, the Kurdish new year.
“We might send the salaries of employees [of the KRG’s health and education ministries] before Newroz, God willing,” Abadi stated during his weekly press briefing.
Abadi said Baghdad was prepared to send an undisclosed amount of money for the salaries of KRG employees following an agreement with the Kurdish government.
The Kurdistan Region’s employees are separate from those of the federal government. The KRG has applied a system different from Baghdad’s for the distribution of salaries. According to the Iraqi Prime Minister, this is the reason the payment of wages has been delayed.
“The auditing will continue, but with the level our committees have reached, we will send the salaries,” Abadi said, adding that the KRG would distribute salaries for the rest of its employees from independent oil sale revenues.
“We assure the Kurdistan Region’s employees that they will receive their salaries and we will open the airports before Newroz,” Abadi told reporters.
The Iraqi government under Nouri al-Maliki’s leadership in 2014 cut the Region’s share of the national budget, creating an economic and financial crisis in Kurdistan.
During his term in office, Abadi has also refused to send the Kurdistan Region’s share of the budget.
According to Kurdish officials, the cutting of the constitutional share of the national budget and the violation of other articles in the constitution by the federal government pushed the Region to hold a referendum on independence.
The plebiscite was held on Sep. 25 where over 93 percent of voters were in favor of an independent Kurdistan.
The vote was followed by a series of punitive measures against the people of the Kurdistan Region, including an attack on Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas outside of the KRG’s administration.
Baghdad also imposed a flight embargo on airports in Erbil and Sulaimani province and asked neighboring countries to close their borders with Kurdistan.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany