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SULAIMANI — A negotiating delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) postponed on Tuesday (July 7) an expected trip to Baghdad because federal officials have not completed a review of financial, personnel, and administrative files related to oil and the KRG’s public sector workforce.
According to sources in both the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad delegations, it is not clear when the KRG officials will ultimately make the trip, although it will only do so after the review is complete.
NRT reporter in Baghdad Omed Muhammed said that the two main stumbling blocks to reaching the long-awaited comprehensive budget agreement between the federal government and the KRG were the agreement’s duration and the amount of money that Erbil will receive from budget transfers.
According to sources, the federal government has demanded the Kurdistan Region’s total oil and non-oil revenues and in return Erbil will receive 550 billion Iraqi dinars ($462 million) per month to pay public sector salaries and other expenses.
The KRG has reportedly responded with two offers: one where Erbil gives all oil income and half the receipts from local taxes and border crossings in return for 650 billion Iraqi dinars ($546 million) per month or another where all income is transferred to Baghdad in return for 900 billion Iraqi dinars ($756 million) per month.
On Monday, before the trip was postponed, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) lawmaker had expressed confidence that the differences would be easily resolved.
In late April, Baghdad cut off all budget transfers to Erbil, leaving it with a massive shortfall that was compounded by the effects of a drop in the global price of oil.
Unable to pay its public sector workers on time or in full, the KRG has repeated delayed distribution of salaries this spring and recently moved to cut the pay of most workers by 21 percent or more.
(NRT Digital Media)