Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi [M] did not head a meeting of the Council of Ministers on November 5, 2017 as he visited the Iraqi troops in Anbar province, near the Syrian border. Photo: Iraqi PM media office
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s Council of Ministers has approved a draft for the 2018 budget that slashes the Kurdistan Region share to over 12 percent, down by 5 percent, and calls the Region the “provinces of the Kurdistan Region,” a Kurdish member of the finances committee of the Iraqi parliament told Rudaw.
Masud Haider said the budget share of the Kurdistan Region stands at 12.67 percent.
The spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) called the draft law a “clear violation of the Iraqi constitution.”
Two Kurdish ministers at the meeting did not vote for the proposed budget, but the draft nonetheless received a majority of votes, Haider said.
Sunday’s meeting was headed by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jaafari as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was visiting troops in Anbar province who recently liberated the town of al-Qaim, on the Syrian border. Abadi was, however, given the authority to make changes to the draft before he presents it to the parliament, the Kurdish MP explained.
KRG spokesperson Safin Dizayee told reporters earlier on Sunday that they are aware of the proposed budget law and believe it violates the Iraqi constitution.
“They want to strip the Kurdistan Region from its constitutional and legal form,” Dizayee said.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his deputy Qubad Talabani met with governors and heads of provincial councils of the Kurdish provinces of Erbil, Sulaimani, Duhok, and Halabja on Sunday.
“What the federal government of Iraq is stating regarding providing the budgets of the provinces is nothing less than political propaganda. The best example of this is the draft budget of Iraq for 2018 that has allocated a budget for Kurdistan that is not enough to cover the expenses of one province of Kurdistan,” read a KRG statement published following the meeting with the governors.
The Iraqi government has suggested it would like to deal directly with the Kurdish provinces, therefore bypassing the KRG. Dizayee said there was a good understanding between the KRG and the provinces.
Dzayee said there are external attempts to “divide the Kurdistan Region,” something that they refuse.
A statement from the KRG on Wednesday criticized the proposed 2018 Iraqi budget, which it said for the first time does not refer to the Kurdistan Region but rather “the provinces of the Kurdistan Region.” This violates the Iraqi constitution that recognizes the Kurdistan Region as a federal region with its own government, legislature, and judiciary, the KRG stated.
The KRG asserted that the Iraqi government trying to deal directly with the provinces is also a violation of the constitution that recognizes the four provinces collectively as one entity.
The KRG has been allocated a 17 percent share of the Iraqi budget as Erbil and Baghdad agreed that the Kurdish population constitutes 17 percent of the total Iraqi population. The KRG said this agreement remains in place until a census is conducted.
Erbil rejects its reduced share in Iraq’s 2018 as unconstitutional
Last updated at 10:52 p.m.