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KRG now owes $31.637 billion in debt: cabinet secretary

  2021-06-29  | 
 Zhyan News Network
Secretary of the Council of Ministers, Amanj Raheem speaks during a session by the Kurdistan Parliament on June 28, 2021. Photo/Kurdistan Parliament
 Zhyan News Network


SULAIMANI – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) now holds $31.637 billion in debt, said secretary of the Council of Ministers on Monday (June 28) to highlight the government’s precarious financial position.

“The KRG’s debts have increased to $31.637 billion,” Amanj Raheem responded lawmakers in Kurdistan Parliament, disclosing a figure which shocked many observers and posed questions about how the figure had grown so large.

According to Raheem, the debt did not come from borrowing, but consisted of public salaries withheld as part of austerity measures, sums received in pre-payment for oil produced by companies and domestic energy.

An amount of nearly $4.5 billion increased to the KRG’s debts since May 2020 when the KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said his cabinet’s debts swelled to $27 billion.

The KRG now owes public servants $12 billion, said secretary of the Council of Ministers Amanj Raheem, blaming devaluation of the Iraqi dinar against US dollar.

Nearly four billion US dollar owed to the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI), “financial obligations” amounted to $8.703 billion and $4.300 billion owed to oil companies received by the KRG as pre-payment, said Raheem.

The KRG started withholding salaries in 2016 following the budget freeze by the federal government and the recapture of the disputed oil-rich governorate of Kirkuk by the federal security forces that reduced almost 60 percent of its capacity to export oil.

The KRG distributed five salaries last year, four were slashed by eighteen and twenty percent. The withheld salaries were for April, May, June, July, August, November and December, according to a written document signed by the Finance and Economy Affairs Minister Awat Janab on February 23.

(Zhyan English)