January 6, 2021 | oil and gas

Oil, budget disputes with Baghdad fueled by ‘incorrect information’: deputy PM spokesperson


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region —The spokesperson for Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani says budget issues between Erbil and Baghdad were fueled by “incorrect information” given to Baghdad by Iraqi officials, adding that the Kurdish delegation is “ready” to go back to Baghdad for talks.

“The reason you haven’t heard anything positive from Baghdad – there are many reasons – is incorrect information from Iraqi officials given to the Iraqi government and citizens on the oil issue and the number of civil servants in the Kurdistan Region,' Samir Hawrami told Rudaw’s Sangar Abdulrahman on Monday.

The Kurdistan Region’s allocation of the federal budget has been a point of contention with Baghdad. Iraq did not send the autonomous region money for several months of 2020 amid oil disputes, preventing Erbil from paying the salaries of its public servants.

Erbil and Baghdad signed an agreement in August, compelling Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's cabinet to send 320 billion dinars ($268 million) every month, which was not enacted.

“We should have received 320 billion according to the August 15 agreement, but the Iraqi government didn’t send it because the fiscal deficit bill was sent to parliament,” Hawrami said.

Talabani led a KRG delegation to Baghdad at the beginning of December amid heightened tensions between Erbil and the federal government.

On December 22, Talabani announced Erbil and Baghdad had reached a deal on Iraq’s Federal Budget Bill for 2021 that “keeps the common interest of all Iraqi people, including the people of Kurdistan Region” following weeks of disputes after Kurdish MPs walked out of a session on a deficit bill requiring Erbil to hand over an unspecified amount of oil in exchange for funds.

Talabani told the Kurdish Parliament on December 28 that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is ready to hand over 250.000 barrels of oil per day to Baghdad if the 2021 budget is approved.

The budget bill was approved by Iraq's Council of Ministers on December 21, and is set to be read by the Iraqi parliament this month.

“We need a Kurdish lobbyist in Baghdad,” Hawrami said, adding that the Kurdish delegation, led by Talabani, is “ready to back to Baghdad for talks.”

The issue “needs consensus from both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region,” he said.

However, the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal) and Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) refuse to be a part of the Kurdish delegation, some of its members have told Rudaw.

“The government should either have an alternative to resolve the civil servant salaries issue, and we think they don’t, otherwise they would have presented it, or we should reach an agreement with Baghdad. A political party delegation, in our opinion, doesn’t serve anything,” Mustafa Abdullah, member of the KIU Executive Council told Arkan Ali on Monday.

“This is not the parties’ responsibility,” added Komal leadership member Shwan Rabar.

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