SULAIMANI – Sixty-one judges and members of the public prosecutor condemned on Monday (April 26) “illegal” austerity measures imposed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and “intervention” in the judicial decisions.
The KRG installed several austerity measures in 2016, which have yet remained in effect, to purportedly fight an economic and financial crisis in a bid to save some cash to pay its bloated wage bill, such as a suspension to permanent employment.
The judges and public prosecutor members delivered a petition to the KRG saying “financial entitlements of the public servants which have been decided according to law” must not be slashed. They warned to take different action if their demands are not met.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government should implement genuine reform and end illegal ways of paying salary top-ups and thousands of ghost employees,” the petition reads.
In February, the KRG decided to log all the salaries withheld in 2020 from public sector employees as debts, likewise several salaries it did not pay in 2016 and 2017.
The KRG started withholding salaries in 2016 following the budget freeze by the federal government, but the recapture of the disputed oil-rich governorate of Kirkuk by the federal security forces significantly reduced almost 60 percent of its capacity to export oil.
The judges wrote in the petition that KRG’s revenue has increased enough to allocate full salaries following an agreement with Baghdad and hike in oil prices “to over $65” per barrel.
“We demand more work to be done to secure sovereignty of law, full respect for impartiality of the judicial authority and banning party intervention in the courts’ decisions,” the petition reads.
The current cabinet headed by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani sounded an upbeat mood at the outset of this year that it would pay its public servants in 30 days and make abundant job opportunities in the private sector.