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Rudaw

Iraq

Fuad Masum returns budget bill lacking Peshmerga salaries to parliament

By Rudaw 13/3/2018
Peshmerga fighters load an artillery at the Altun Kubri checkpoint, 40 km from Kirkuk, on October 20, 2017. Photo: Marc-Antoine Pelaez | AFP
Peshmerga fighters load an artillery at the Altun Kubri checkpoint, 40 km from Kirkuk, on October 20, 2017. Photo: Marc-Antoine Pelaez | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq's president has returned the budget bill to the parliament for revision, citing “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 President Fuad Masum’s office on Tuesday.

An advisor to the president, Farhad Aladin, had told Rudaw earlier in the day that Masum had concerns about a lack of direct funding for the Peshmerga salaries, among 31 constitutional, legal, and financial violations. 

The Peshmerga salaries must be demonstrated in the budget bill and not just generally mentioned, Aladin said. 

The statement from Masum’s office did not detail the Peshmerga funds or any specific concerns that were the cause for returning the bill to the legislature. 

Kurdish MPs were unsatisfied that salaries for Peshmerga were not directly included in the 2018 budget bill, which effectively allocates a 14 percent budget share for the regional government. 

Funds were allocated for salaries of Peshmerga, but not for their operational needs.

KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said on Monday that if Baghdad were to send the salaries for the health and education ministries "we will definitely be able to cover the remaining part." 

A spokesperson for the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi has called on the parliament to withdraw confidence from Masum, who is a Kurd, accusing him of abusing his position for nationalist purposes.

“After he proved to have used [his position] for ethnic [purposes] and failed to undertake his constitutional duties, I request national parliamentarians to withdraw confidence from the President of the Republic,” said Yousif al-Kilabi in a social media post. 

“The Iraqi budget is for all the population and this behavior is an attack on the whole population,” he added. 

Updated at 6:25 pm

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