Iraqi PM refuses to restore Kurdistan’s federal budget share

The Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi Parliament informed Prime Minister Abadi that the Kurds do not accept the share allocated to the Kurdistan Region in the 2018 budget law.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi Parliament on Thursday met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the Kurdistan Region’s share in the 2018 budget bill and other issues between Erbil and Baghdad.

The meeting between the heads of all the Kurdish parliamentary blocs and Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi was held at the Parliament building where they discussed budget issues (Kurdistan’s share), reopening the airports, and sending the salaries of the Region’s public employees.

Ashwaq Jaff, a Kurdish MP from the Iraqi Parliament, told Kurdistan 24 that the meeting with Abadi did not foster any positive results because the Iraqi Prime Minister was “not serious about listening to the Kurdish demands.”

“If Abadi was serious about resolving the issues in the budget that are related to the Kurds, he should have met us even before the Parliament read out the budget law,” Jaff stated.

“Abadi insisted on holding the meeting with the Kurds following the Parliament’s first reading of the budget law so the order could not be amended and the Kurdistan Region’s share could not be increased,” he added.

Arez Abdullah, Head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, said all the issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government, including budget and salaries of the employees, were addressed during the meeting.

“The Kurdish blocs informed Abadi that the Kurds do not accept the share allocated to the Kurdistan Region in the budget law and requested it be resolved,” Abdullah said, adding Abadi had promised to follow up on the matter.

However, Baghdad-based al-Sumeriya quoted a source close to the Iraqi Prime Minister who said Abadi had refused to increase Kurdistan’s share of the budget citing “insufficient revenues for all Iraqis.”

On Wednesday, Kurdish factions in the Iraqi Parliament, who hold over 60 seats, declared they had boycotted the 2018 budget session as the significant decrease in the original 17 percent budget share had not been addressed.

After the 2003 removal of the authoritarian regime in Iraq, the Kurdistan Region and Iraq agreed that Kurdistan’s budget share would be 17 percent to reflect the needs of its population.

Baghdad, however, decided to decrease the Region’s budget share to 12.7 percent when they announced the 2018 budget bill.

Senior officials in Kurdistan have repeatedly asserted they had never received the full 17 percent in the past decade.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany