Iraqi parliament approves draft 2021 Federal Budget Law
Iraqi Council of Representatives' lawmakers vote on draft 2021 Federal Budget Law in Baghdad, Iraq, March 31,2021. Photo by state-run al-Sabaah newspaper
Zhyan News Network
SULAIMANI – Iraq’s Council of Representatives on Wednesday (March 31) voted on the belated draft 2021 Federal Budget Law into law after several delays in recent months.
The voting commenced in the presence of 215 out of the total 325 lawmakers at 04:00 pm after it was originally scheduled for 01:00 pm.
The budget is estimated at 129 Iraqi dinars trillion ($89 billion) and a budget deficit estimated at 28.7 Iraqi dinars trillion ($19.79 billion).
The price of each barrel of oil is priced at $45 with expected oil exports of 3.25 million barrels per day.
The draft budget consists of 58 articles, according to state-owned al-Sabaah newspaper.
52 articles were approved by a majority of the lawmakers, while voting on article 41 was delayed and 20, 38, 42, 43 and 47 were removed.
Article 20 was related to a minor cut to public sector employees’ salaries.
One of the agenda is a request by 172 lawmakers to dissolve the Iraqi legislature before the October 10 early election.
The Iraqi legislature voted in favor of dissolving itself on October 7, three days before the coming October 10 early elections.
The main disputes are the exchange rate of the US dollar against the Iraqi dinar (IQD) and whether the Iraqi Government will borrow more loans to fill deficit in the budget.
In December, the CBI devalued the exchange rate to 1,450 IQD for each 1$ for the Iraqi Finance Ministry, 1,460 IQD to public banks and 1,470 to the public. The former exchange rate stood at 1,182 IQD for per 1$.
Prior to the session, the Shia caucuses met at the house of head of Fatah Alliance Hadi al-Amiri house to coordinate their votes. The Iraqi parliament also held a session to amend some of the provisions in the bill and ready it for the vote.
Member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Mahdi Abdulkarim told the state media Iraqi News Agency (INA) that his party’s lawmakers will attend the session, claiming rows over the Kurdistan Region’s budget share had been resolved in the draft law.
The Kurdistan Region should produce not less than 460,000 barrels per day per day and should submit the revenue for 250,000 barrels per months along with an amount of non-oil incomes to the federal authority.
The Region's share was changed to 13.9 percent from the previous 12.67 percent from the budget.
Lawmaker of Hiwa Alliance Sarkawt Shamsadin said in a Facebook that the ten trillion IQD will arrive in the Kurdistan Region from Baghdad for the 2021 fiscal year, saying the KRG can pay public sector employees in full without cuts along with half of non-oil incomes.
The majority of the lawmakers voted in favor of Article 11 related to the Kurdistan Region's obligations and entitlements.
In case the KRG does not abides by the deal, it will receive no budget share even for its wage bill.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Government of Iraq have been in long-running talks for months to reach an agreement about the former’s budgetary obligations to the latter’s budgetary duties.
Iraq is experiencing a double whammy of the second wave of coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices below $100 along with endemic corruption that has vanished over $320 billion dollars from the country since 2003.
*This story was updated at 11:29 pm EBL