Political | 01:19 – 15/08/2020
BAGHDAD – Mawazine News
Iraq is witnessing a public spar between the federal authorities in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region administration in Erbil regarding employee salaries, in a scene that reflects the depth of the financial crisis that Iraq suffers due to the low oil prices on the one hand and the spread of the Corona epidemic and the negative effects it has on the economies of countries On the other hand.
The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq expressed its “strong dissatisfaction with the federal government’s procrastination in sending salaries,” while the federal government in Baghdad responded by expressing its surprise at the Kurdish position regarding “the results of discussions related to financial payments, the organization of imports and border crossings between the federal government and the regional government,” accusing the authorities Kurdish indirectly stole the salaries of their employees that come from Baghdad.
Baghdad wants to put its hand on the largest amount of sources that attract money in the Kurdish region, such as taxes and revenues from border crossings, and others, before paying the salaries of employees working within the Kurdistan Regional Government, which the Kurdish authorities refuse to accept.
After a meeting that was held on Wednesday via a television circuit, the Kurdish regional government said that it “did not leave any constitutional, legal, administrative or financial justification unless it presented it during the discussions in order to reach an agreement, and the region agreed to all the conditions of the federal government within the framework of the constitution, but the federal government, Unfortunately, for more than three months, she has not shown any willingness to send the part of the salaries that she was sending, which led to the regional government being unable to disburse financial dues to those who receive salaries.
The Kurdish authorities believe that the Kurdistan region, “like all other parts of Iraq, gives it the right to receive the salaries of its employees, as the citizens of the region and the rest of the country should not be distinguished, especially with regard to salaries, and this is a constitutional right,” expressing their displeasure. About the negative position of the Federal Government.
The regional government called on “the federal government to respond to the serious efforts made by” Erbil “with the aim of resolving the problems radically according to the constitution, in a manner that ensures its respect for constitutional rights and entitlements and fulfilling its constitutional obligations towards the region.
The regional government called on the President of the Republic, Barham Salih (a Kurd), the ministers and representatives of the Kurdistan region in the House of Representatives, to “defend the financial and constitutional rights and entitlements of the people of the Kurdistan region.”
However, the Federal Ministry of Finance responded that the salaries it sends to Kurdistan employees do not reach those who deserve it, in an indirect accusation of Kurdish political parties of stealing public money.
Baghdad and Erbil have failed since 2003 to build firm agreements on the form of the relationship between the center and the region, the mechanism for sharing wealth, controlling resources and outlets, and distributing financial returns.
Despite the close personal relationship between Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi and Masoud Barzani, the leader of the largest Kurdish party, the Kurdistan Democrat who dominates the positions of Prime Minister and President of the Region in Iraqi Kurdistan, tensions over salaries have escalated between Baghdad and Erbil recently.
Under an agreement dating back to the government of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and specifically concluded by the then Minister of Oil, Adel Abdul Mahdi, Erbil must deliver to Baghdad every day 250 thousand barrels of oil produced in Kurdish lands, provided that the federal government covers the region’s expenses, including the salaries of its employees.
However, contracts concluded with foreign companies in mysterious circumstances have mortgaged Kurdish oil for many years to come, which limits the ability of the region’s authorities to act directly on it.
Therefore, the agreement between Baghdad and Erbil was later amended, to continue on the basis of calculating the value of two hundred and fifty thousand barrels per day and then deducting it later from the share of the Kurdish region that is included in the annual federal budget.
This agreement continued until the winter of 2017, when Barzani insisted on holding a referendum among the inhabitants of the Kurdish region regarding their desire to secede from Iraq, prompting the Abadi government to cut all salaries from Kurdistan and besiege it militarily.
Among the losses Barzani incurred because of his insistence on the referendum at the time was his compulsion to respond to Baghdad, which wants to partially control the land outlets between the Kurdish region and Turkey and Iran, as well as the airports of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
The Kurdistan government hoped to amend the agreement with Baghdad on controlling ports and airports, and to cut the link of this file with the issue of paying the salaries of the region’s employees with the previous government led by its friend, Adel Abdul Mahdi, without making any progress.
When Al-Kazemi took over the reins of the Iraqi government, many expected that the differences between Baghdad and Erbil would be resolved, given the deep friendship that binds the Prime Minister to Barzani, but the collapse of oil prices in conjunction with the outbreak of the Corona epidemic hit Iraqi oil revenues in deaths, dropping them to less than a third of their general average.
This situation prompted Baghdad to search for resources that would help fuel oil in feeding the public treasury, thus placing the revenues of border crossings, airports and ports at the forefront of its list of concerns.
The Kurdish authorities control the two largest land ports of Iraq with Turkey and Iran, and do not pay the federal government anything from their very large revenues, and the region also has an airport in Erbil and another in Sulaymaniyah, which operate regular flights to Turkey, the Gulf, Europe and many other countries and generate millions of dollars that do not get Baghdad from them on something.
Observers believe that the best that Baghdad achieved in its connection with the Kurdish region came in the last year of the Al-Abadi government, which imposed a full federal partnership in managing the region’s ports and airports, and that all that happened after that was a gradual disavowal by Erbil from adhering to vital provisions in the 2017 agreement. A / 43