Kurdistan president ratifies Reform Bill, calls for unified retirement law

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Monday ratified the Reform Bill, written to establish a “fair” pension system for public servants, and used the occasion to urge the government to draft a new bill restructuring retirement law as well.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Monday ratified the Reform Bill, written to establish a “fair” pension system for public servants, and used the occasion to urge the government to draft a new bill restructuring retirement law as well.

The regional parliament completed the first reading of the 19-article bill in late December, after which 85 lawmakers voted in mid-January to grant it an “emergency status” to facilitate passage.

The former Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), led at the time by Barzani who was then prime minister, drafted an earlier version of the bill but a regional election fraught with accusations of voter fraud in late 2018 halted progress.

Lawmakers and other Kurdish officials resumed working on the initiative when the new regional cabinet was formed in late 2019.

Read More: Kurdistan Region parliament votes to pass landmark Reform Bill

The bill aims “to bring fairness” to the pay and pensions system for government employees and Peshmerga fighters, according to the Kurdistan Parliament website. It is also meant to correctly assign staff grades and to eliminate “ghost employees” who collect salaries without showing up for work.

Acknowledging criticism of the shortcomings of the Reform Bill, the president said in a statement that a team of experts from his office and the Council of Ministers had examined the contents of the legislation.

“We assure all parties of our full understanding of their opinions and notes, especially those related to retirement,” he said. “And we affirm that the law is another step for reform in the administrative and financial realms.”

“Through cooperation and coordination with all relevant institutions and parties in the Kurdistan Region, we will continue to take further steps for reform that serve the public interests of the people of Kurdistan,” President Barzani added.

He then stated that he had assigned the KRG to now work on “a unified retirement bill for the Kurdistan Region within an appropriate time period present it to Parliament, in a manner that includes the basis and criteria for achieving justice, and reassures employees that their rights and entitlements will be guaranteed and preserved in the present and the future.”

He pointed out that the unified pension law should take into account “the observations and proposals on the law that have been made, while shortcomings that may appear during application can be rectified through amending the law and the procedures for its application.” 

Editing by John J. Catherine