An Erbil Traffic Police officer poses for a photo by the Nishtiman Bazaar on June 13, 2018. File photo: Rudaw English
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Civil servants should meet their required work expectations, implored Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. The call follows the end
of the salary savings system last month with full salaries being paid after years of withholdings.
“According to our information and monitoring, in most of the ministries, bureaus and agencies of the government, the employees are not adequately committed to working hours,” the PM wrote in a letter dated March 31 and seen by Rudaw on Friday.
Due to measures not being taken the habit of not fulfilling working hours has become “a phenomenon.”
“This has led to a vacuum and hampers appropriately managing the affairs of the citizens. At the same time, due to unfairness in salaries and bonuses, those employees who did work regularly in a diligent and committed manner got cold feet while executing their duties,” the PM added.
The PM admits that while the phenomenon of not doing enough hours of work existed even before the financial crisis and ensuing salary cuts, it increased with the salary cuts.
In 2014, three crises beset the Kurdistan Region: Baghdad cutting Erbil’s share of the federal budget to the latter indecently exporting oil, the conflict with the Islamic State (ISIS), and the influx of some 1.8 million IDPs and Syrian refugees.
The KRG took a drastic and unpopular decision called the salary savings system which withheld portions of civil servants’ monthly salaries which the KRG said would later be repaid.
Salaries at times had to be cut by more than 50 percent so the KRG was able to pay — usually not on time — and sometimes on a bimonthly.
However, following negotiations and an agreement with Iraq under what KRG leaders have described
as a Kurd-friendly government of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Iraq began sending the salaries of the public servants. It has been over a month since salaries have been paid in full, without cuts.
“Considering the improving financial conditions of the Region, and the salary cutting not remaining, and for the public interests and managing the affairs of citizens, all ministries, bureaus, and agencies of the government have to undertake necessary measures to make employees committed to official working hours according to determined times,” added the letter.
The PM puts forth a number of points: Giving off-days will become stricter, and legal and administrative measures will be undertaken against employees unwilling to commit to working hours.
If there is no justifiable reason, any employee who doesn’t come to work for more than 30 days will be fired.
The ministries, bureaus and agencies of the government have to send the PM’s office the number and names of all “extra” employees on their payroll, and the list has to differentiate between those who work and those who just get paid and don’t do any work.
During the financial crisis, government officials were themselves not keen on enforcing the rules of working hours, taking into consideration that the employees were already disgruntled
due to the little salary they were inconsistently receiving.
With the improving financial conditions, a separate decision bars government employees, including in the security sector, from working as taxi drivers.
It is not uncommon in the Kurdistan Region for people to have various services of income, whether in the public or private sector. The KRG has made concerted efforts to trim its bloated public sector
through biometric systems and reforms.