PM Barzani leads KRG delegation to Baghdad for budget talks
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Thursday is set to head the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation to Baghdad, where the federal and regional officials discuss the Erbil-Baghdad budget dispute.
Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and Minister of Finance and Economy Awat Sheikh Janab are among the members of the high-level delegation that is expected to meet with top Iraqi officials.
The visit comes as Baghdad has refused to pay the Kurdistan Region’s federal share for months following the adoption of the budget law in June.
Barzani's last visit to Baghdad was in April when the Kurdish and federal premiers inked an agreement to resume the Kurdish oil export following its halt in late March. Per the deal, Erbil would get $900 million monthly after the Kurdish capital transfers 85,000 barrels of oil per day.
Although the Kurdish region has transferred the agreed-upon amount, Baghdad has paid far less than what it had initially committed itself to, according to KRG officials.
Since its adoption in early June, KRG diplomats have alleged the budget has not been implemented properly by the government. Instead of paying the Kurdish share, they allege Baghdad has released allowances to Erbil in order to cover the public salaries. The KRG has previously said the 500 billion dinars (over $384 million) is not sufficient to pay the salaries.
Hailed as one of the country’s biggest budgets, the state expenditures were set at 198.91 trillion Iraqi dinars ($153 billion), with a deficit of more than 64 trillion dinars (over $48 billion).
The Kurdistan Region’s share in the federal budget is set at 12.67 percent, amounting to more than $12 billion annually.
The management of oil and gas has been among the thorny issues between Erbil and Baghdad for over a decade, leading to the suspension of the Region’s share in previous federal budgets.