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KRG should spend Baghdad’s cash on public pay: PUK official

  2021-07-18  | 
 Zhyan News Network
Member of the Supreme Political Council and the Interest of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Qadir Hamajan (R) speaks during participation in a legal seminar in Sullaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, July 17, 2021. Photo by Qadir Hakim Qadir
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should spend Baghdad’s cash transfer on providing salaries to public sector employees and pensioners before taking advantage of it for anything else, Qadir Hamajan, the member of the Supreme Political Council and the Interest of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), said. 

On July 11, the Iraqi government’s finance ministry added to the Kurdistan Region’s bank account 200 billion Iraqi dinars ($137.1 million). Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi previously said the cash is a prepayment and will be deducted from the Kurdistan Region’s budget share once its audits into the Region’s incomes and wage bill wrap up. 

“Providing salaries, services, and safety of individual citizen are their decent rights and the government must provide these rights, and there are no excuses to violate their rights under any justifications,” Hamajan said during a seminar on Saturday.

“We pass months, the government gave the salaries to our employees, teachers, retired/ former employees with discounts, if there was one excuse to pocket them before, now there are no excuses,” he said.

The PUK official noted that the KRG should pay salary on time and in full after Baghdad’s transfer and the high oil prices.

In late March, Iraq passed its belated budget law for 2021 after agreements between the Kurdish and federal authorities. Baghdad has not sent a budget transfer to the Region as of yet.

The approval of the budget law filled the Region’s civil servants with hopes it would put an end to salary cuts and delays imposed by the KRG for over a year.

Throughout 2020, the KRG missed several months’ worth of salaries to public servants, paid one in full and slashed others by either eighteen or twenty-one percent citing the COVID-19 pandemic, budget with Baghdad and low oil prices. 

It paid all the months in 2021 by twenty-one cuts despite considerable rises in crude oil prices and the devaluation of the Iraqi dinars against the US dollars by over 25 percent.

Ali Hama Sailh, a lawmaker from the Change Movement (Gorran), said that there is sufficient revenue for distributing salary without cuts and in full per month.

The KRG needs 896 billion Iraqi dinars ($614.4 million), according to Hama Salih

The KRG has raked in 514 ($350) million from oil exports, 20 billion dinars from the US-led Coalition, thus the KRG needs 82 percent of the non-oil incomes amounting to 162 billion Iraqi dinars to secure the rest of the cash for the public salary, the lawmaker said.

(Zhyan English)