Iraqi Council of Representatives. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s extensive proposal to shrink the Iraqi federal government and reduce high-ranking administrative positions was approved by Iraq’s Council of Representatives by a majority of votes Tuesday.
Tuesday’s session, in which 296 representatives attended the premier’s proposal, was discussed by Salim Jabouri, the head of the Iraqi Parliament, and the 25 articles in the proposal were approved.
The reform package presented by the premier includes a comprehensive reduction in the quantity of personnel for all state officials, including for the presidency, ministers, members of parliament, special ranks, director generals and governors and members of provincial councils.
The administrative reforms additionally target the vice president and deputy prime minister posts. They also offer a plan to reduce government costs and increase government efficiency through the consolidation of ministries and independent bodies.
According to a statement released by Abadi on Sunday, there will be committees to observe and monitor the salary system for Iraqi officials under his plan. The reforms give the authority to the prime minister to dismiss governors or heads of local councils and their members in cases of faulty performance or violations.
The proposal also includes fiscal reforms in taxation and the government revenue system. The upper limits of retired officials’ pensions will be lowered, and customs tariffs imposed at all border crossing points, including in the Kurdistan region.
Providing loans to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment as well as increasing reliance on the private sector are also part of the Abadi proposal, as is combating corruption. Part of the measure establishes an “Anti-Corruption Council” chaired by the prime minister, and the launch of a “where did you get this?” campaign to tackle government corruption.
“Activating the role of regulatory institutions, identifying corrupt officials and establishing criteria for evaluating the performance of the regulations requires activating the role of the National Integrity Commission, the reassessment of the offices of the inspector general and focusing on the core functions of their offices to consolidate them and increase their efficiency,” read the premier’s proposal.
“All special payments to government committees and retired officials will be revoked and instead will be taken into account by fairness, professionalism and expertise,” it continued. “A grand committee set up by the prime minister will select candidates based on skill, transparency and domestic and international experience.”
Abadi’s proposal came after Iraqi Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s call, and a demonstration against the government in Baghdad. It was immediately welcomed by many Iraqi leaders.
“The Iraqi Parliament will fully support the government’s reform and will be an observer to the process,” Jabouri said. He added the reforms should take place in accordance with the law.
Disgraced former Prime Minister and sitting Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, whose position will be eliminated under the Abadi proposal, said in a statement to the press he will support Iraqi Shiite leaders’ calls for change in the government. He asked the Iraqi premier to implement the reforms.