The Kurdish factions have vowed to continue boycotting the parliamentary until their budget demands are met Photo: Iraq parliament/File
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish MPs in Baghdad boycotted Sunday’s parliament session protesting the last minute inclusion of the second reading of the contentious budget bill, which an MP predicts is close to being passed.
"The Iraqi parliament will resume after half an hour and may witness the ratification of the budget law," Kamel Nawaf al-Ghurairi, a Sunni MP, told Rudaw. "We are calling the Kurdish blocs to not boycott the meeting today because not participating will hurt everyone."
"The differences concerning [the budget] between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi government must be resolved through dialogue,” he stressed.
The presidency of the Iraqi Council of Representatives has postponed the meeting for one hour.
Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri will meet with the Kurdish MPs to try and persuade them to end their boycott and vote to pass the budget bill, Arafat Karam, head of the KDP faction in Baghdad, told Rudaw
But, to date, there have been “no changes in the section about the Kurdistan Region share of the 2018 budget bill,” he said.
The Kurdish factions have also met with the Sunnis in the parliament to discuss the budget, but there is no agreement yet, Karam added.
“Sunnis and oil-producing provinces alike are not ready to vote to pass the bill,” he asserted.
Earlier, a member of the parliament’s finance committee, Masoud Haider, a Kurd, told Rudaw that the agenda of the Sunday session “does not include the draft budget law.”
He said the bill had been removed from the agenda because of “pressure from the Kurdish and Sunni blocs.”
Sunday’s session includes an amendment of the election law, Haider said, noting that "the amendment includes the allocation of 20% of seats in parliament for those who do not hold a bachelor's degree."
Three Kurdish MPs in the Iraqi parliament had their membership suspended for 15 days and salaries cut for these days after they blocked the parliament from its second reading of the budget bill last week.
The Kurdish factions have vowed to continue boycotting the parliamentary until their budget demands are met. Primarily, they do not want KRG’s share decreased from 17 to 12.6 percent.
A concern of the Kurdish representatives is that the current funds allocated to the Kurdistan Region “does not suffice for even one province,” MP Arafat Karam pointed out, according to the parliament’s statement last week.
Abadi attended a January 31 session of parliament that was boycotted by all Kurdish factions. After the session, the prime minister met with a delegation of Kurdish MPs, but he refused to amend the bill.
The MPs have tried to pressure Abadi to listen to the International Monetary Fund’s recommendation that 12.6 percent is not sufficient to cover the needs of the people in the Kurdistan Region for 2018.
Updated at 3:24 pm