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Salary crisis precipitates new round of talks between Erbil and Baghdad


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Salary crisis precipitates new round of talks between Erbil and Baghdad


Economy Baghdad News

The Minister of Finance of the Kurdistan Region, Awat Janab Nouri, confirmed that a government team will go to Baghdad to discuss the issue of salaries, pointing out that there is readiness by the federal government to solve the problems of the region, as the problem of salaries is one of the most prominent chronic points of contention between the two sides.

Nouri told reporters on Wednesday that the regional government had sent the review budget to the federal government on funding salaries for the last three months of this year, but did not specify a date for the delegation's upcoming visit.

The region used to have an independent source of funding that enabled it to pay salaries in part thanks to its oil exports, but since the end of last March it has lost its most important resources due to the cessation of Iraqi oil exports to Turkey.

Last month, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced a conditional financial settlement with the Kurdistan region over the salary crisis, pointing to observations on the number of employees in the region, the main point of the dispute with the regional government.

The Iraqi government has begun distributing the salaries for the month of November, while the Kurdistan Regional Government is waiting for Baghdad to send it 700 billion dinars (just over $ 600 million), as a loan previously agreed upon to pay the salaries of last September, and this is the last month in which Baghdad will send loans to the region, while the fate of the salaries of the remaining three months for the employees of the regional government for this year is unknown, and it depends on the Sudanese approval of the request sent several times ago. Days by KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to obtain new loans from Baghdad.

The Assistant Prime Minister of Kurdistan for Economic and Administrative Affairs, Ribaz Hamlan, explained that Barzani's message to the Sudanese included two important points, the first is to demand another three months' salary, and the second is to amend the salary item in the federal budget.

He said at a press conference in the middle of this month, "We had previously demanded Baghdad for the salaries of the last six months of 2023, and the federal government agreed to send 700 billion dinars per month for 3 months," adding, "We had demanded to send 800 billion dinars per month, and Baghdad has so far sent two months of the three months that announced its approval, and will send another 700 billion dinars by the end of this month."

"Al-Sudani made a decision at the cabinet meeting to send three salaries, but we hope that the federal government will send three more salaries", Hamlan said. He stressed at the same time, that "the Prime Minister of Kurdistan is in constant contact with the Iraqi Prime Minister," pointing out that during Sudani's visit to Erbil, President Barzani and the President of the Kurdistan Region stressed the importance of strengthening relations between Erbil and Baghdad, especially in the issue of salaries and oil.

Regarding the amount related to the cost of producing Kurdistan's oil, Hamlan noted that the regional government "has set an amount and the Iraqi government has proposed another amount, so there is convergence, and oil exports will resume as soon as possible."

Politicians in Kurdistan believe that Baghdad is directly responsible for paying the salaries of employees in the region, like other Iraqi provinces, and must abide by the agreement concluded with Erbil on the budget law and complete the sending of financial payments.

But officials in Baghdad blame the Erbil government, blaming it for failing to perform its duties by refraining from handing over the salaries of the region's employees under the pretext that they were not sent by the central government, while it continues to illegally seize oil export funds, in addition to the revenues of border crossings.

The autonomous region's government earlier appealed to the international community to support it in order to obtain its financial dues, blaming Baghdad for not sending the budget.

Informed sources said that the federal government will send during the last week of this month the last financial payment according to the agreement between Baghdad and Erbil, dedicated to the payment of salaries of employees, but it will be the last payment and the submission was informed to the Kurdistan government, provided that a new agreement will be made between the two parties, noting that after sending this payment, Baghdad will not send any other amounts, which will lead to a new crisis in the region where the Kurdistan government will stop paying salaries, if it does not agree with Baghdad.

The Federal Council of Ministers voted last September to send 2.1 trillion dinars to the Kurdistan region in the form of 3 payments, and by 700 billion dinars for each payment as salaries for 3 months, where two batches were sent, the first in late October and was distributed as salaries for the month of July and the second payment sent a few days ago and distributed as salaries for the month of August, while the last payment will be calculated as salaries for the month of September, while the salaries of the last three months of the year remain unaccounted for.

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Added 2023/11/22 - 9:27 PM

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