Baghdad 'has not sent a single dinar' since passage of 2021 budget: Kurdistan Region

The Kurdistan Region’s capital city of Erbil. (Photo: Archive)
The Kurdistan Region’s capital city of Erbil. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The deputy speaker of the Kurdistan Region's parliament said on Tuesday that the autonomous region has still not received finance disbursements it is owed by the federal government in Baghdad since the approval of the 2021 national budget, accusing Baghdad of not fulfilling its obligations despite Erbil's commitment to the legislation.

"The Iraqi government has not committed to implementing the budget law, nor has it sent financial dues to the region," said Hemin Hawrami at a press conference held in Erbil.

This comes just after the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani had announced that talks between Erbil and Baghdad, ostensibly just to iron out technical details for the budget's implementation, had not stopped and that a government delegation would be traveling to Baghdad to discuss reasons for the delay. 

Read More: Kurdistan Region delegation will return to Baghdad next week for talks on budget, salaries

In March, the Iraqi parliament voted on the federal budget, including the Kurdistan Region’s share, after often tense negotiations spanning for several months. In the weeks that followed, the Iraqi president then signed the bill into effect.

“The Iraqi government has not sent a single dinar” since the approval of the 2021 budget, Hawrami stated, adding that the KRG has also never received its monthly allotments for up to a year in 2020 and early 2021.  

The overall budget amounted to 164.4 trillion dinars, about $112 billion, and a fiscal deficit of 63 trillion dinars, or roughly $43 billion.

There are indeed still pending technical issues regarding multiple issues including law enforcement mechanisms in both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, but Kurdish officials have consistently argued that this is in no way a legitimate excuse for not transferring the funds, in particular those earmarked to pay KRG government salaries.

The budget was approved after the federal and regional governments reached an agreement on some issues of dispute, namely oil sales and non-oil revenues, in a step that KRG officials said at the time would help reduce immediate tensions between them and pave the way for resolving other disagreements.

Previously, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani praised the approval of the federal budget and said it helped restore a "glimmer of hope" to relations with the federal government.

Read More: Masrour Barzani: The budget law restored a ray of hope about the relationship with the federal government

In late April, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani called for the United Nations to play a more active role in mediating negotiations on multiple issues that have proven irreconcilable between all previous federal and regional administrations in post-2003 Iraq.

Editing by John J. Catherine