Cover of the Al-Waqa’i‘ al-‘Iraqiyah’s 4485th edition. Photo: Ministry of Justice
ERBIL, Kurdistan – Iraq’s contentious 2018 budget was published in the republic’s official state gazette, Al-Waqa’i‘ al-‘Iraqiyah, on Monday, meaning the law is now in effect.
The gazette’s 4485th edition’s cover page includes the headline: “Iraqi Federal Government 2018 Budget Law.”
Al-Waqa’i‘ al-‘Iraqiyah began publishing in 1922. It is where all legislation, instructions and laws are published. It is affiliated to the Ministry of Justice.
It comes after Iraqi President Fuad Masum approved the bill after initially rejected it.
The budget bill, fiercely opposed by Kurds and at times by Sunnis, was sent back to the Iraqi parliament by the Iraqi president on March 13, as it was seen to contain legal and constitutional violations.
Masum, a Kurd, had concerns about a lack of direct funding for Peshmerga salaries, among 31 constitutional, legal, and financial violations.
“The return of the budget came after legal and financial experts and consultants studied and examined it in detail to specify the most important constitutional, legal and financial violations of some articles, items or paragraphs which must be resolved before approval and any irregularities with their form [must] be fixed,” read a statement from Masum’s office at the time.
Last week, without any notable changes, the parliament sent the budget back to the presidency for approval. Since the president is considered the guardian of the Iraqi constitution, his approval is necessary for it to become law.
The new budget levies 14 new taxes on the people, including a 200 percent price hike on alcoholic beverages.
The Iraqi budget was passed by a majority of Sunni and Shiite blocs. KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said at the time that the combined vote of these groups ran against the national “partnership” that the new Iraq was supposed to be founded on.
The KRG has been allocated funds that cannot meet its financial needs, both according to KRG officials and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The share of the budget given to the Kurdistan Region was based on the proportion of Kurds in the Iraqi population, estimated by Baghdad to be 12.67 percent.
As there has not been a national census since 1987, Kurds believe the share is inaccurate and unfair.
Kurdish MPs have not been willing to accept anything less than a 17 percent share, as was standard prior to 2014.