ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Iraq's Parliament approved the country's controversial 2018 budget bill on Saturday in the absence of Kurdish politicians, who boycotted the session.
"The Iraqi Parliament did not consider Kurdish demands in the budget bill," Masoud Haidar, a Kurdish lawmaker told a correspondent for Kurdistan 24 in Baghdad's Council of Representatives building.
He solemnly added, "It's time for the Kurds to decide on their destiny in Iraq."
Baghdad reduced the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget to roughly 12 percent, a significant drop from its previous 17 percent allocation, the primary cause for representatives from the region to protest the bill.
The Kurdish leadership has repeatedly criticized Baghdad for inserting the decrease in the draft budget without consulting Kurdish lawmakers, who point out that since the original number had been calculated based on population, it would require a census to justify such a change.
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 living in the Kurdistan Region, representing between 17 and 20 percent of Iraq's population.
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have deteriorated considerably following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by John J. Catherine