ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – International auditing companies will soon release data on the Kurdistan Region’s oil exports, and the Kurdish Prime Minister hopes the report will contribute to a de-escalation of tensions between Erbil and Baghdad over oil disputes.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in 2016 signed an agreement with both the US-based Deloitte and the UK-based Ernst and Young, some of the world’s largest auditing firms, to monitor and review the Kurdistan Region’s oil exports and revenue-generating process.
“Soon, the two world-renowned companies will release their report regarding oil exports in the Kurdistan Region, which will cover the first six months of 2017,” Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani told reporters during his weekly press conference in Erbil.
He labeled the auditing process a "significant step” forward toward transparency in the Kurdistan Region’s oil sector.
Recently, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, alleged that revenue generated by the KRG’s oil exports was “sufficient for the government to pay the salaries of public service employees.”
“The audit, which will soon be released by the two well-known international firms, will provide clear and factual numbers. It will be evident to Baghdad exactly how much the KRG earns from its oil exports,” Barzani said.
The Kurdish Premier also mentioned that thus far, Baghdad had not sent any money to any ministries in the Kurdistan Region for them to pay government employee salaries. The payment freeze included farmers in Kurdistan.
Recently, Baghdad claimed they were reviewing the number of employees in both the Education and Health Ministries, promising to resume monthly payments once the KRG list was vetted.
Regarding violations in Tuz Khurmatu in the Kirkuk Province, Barzani welcomed the Iraqi Parliament’s decision to form a commission to investigate the security situation which arose in the aftermath of the Oct. 16 attack and takeover by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
“The situation in Tuz Khurmatu has to be investigated and taken seriously,” Barzani added.
Commenting on reports of demographic changes and the Arabization process in the oil-rich and multi-ethnic province of Kirkuk, he reiterated the KRG’s concerns.
“It is an important topic. We’re concerned about it. We believe it will bring more instability to the area. We hope Baghdad will sincerely work on resolving the situation in Kirkuk. What is happening now is not a proper solution. The solution is clearly outlined in the Constitution of Iraq.”
The removal of the Kurdish officials in Kirkuk has repeatedly been reported in the past few months following the takeover by Iraqi forces and Baghdad. People in the province warn of another Arabization campaign in Kirkuk aiming to drive the Kurdish population out of the area.
Editing by Nadia Riva