KIU bloc head Muthana Amin speaks in the Parliament of the Republic of Iraq. File photo: Iraq parliament
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) bloc will not support Iraq's 2019 draft budget because it omits the province of Halabja.
"While the Iraqi government is preparing the 2019 budget draft, what is really shocking is that it has once again not treated Halabja as a province and thus we reject it," said Muthana Amin, the head of the KIU’s parliamentary faction.
Halabja obtained provincial status from Baghdad in December 2013, but in practice it has remained administratively tied to Sulaimani.
"A similar thing happened last year, too. Face-to-face, I told Haider al-Abadi: ‘On what bases are you not treating Halabja as a province while Halabja has been constitutionally named a province?’ ” said Amin.
Budgets are typically passed by December, although the contentious 2018 budget was not passed until April.
"We are working to achieve the financial rights of the people of Halabja province and the Kurdistan Region as a whole," added Amin.
According to a letter dated August 9, the Iraqi interior ministry authorized the opening of federal government offices in the province.
Halabja, 110 kilometers south of Sulaimani, became infamous for Saddam Hussein’s murderous campaign against Kurds when his forces attacked the city with chemical weapons in March 1988, killing 5,000 people, many of them women and children.
Iraq’s budget for 2018 is about 104 trillion dinars (about $88 billion). The Iraqi budget operates with a deficit of 12.5 trillion dinars (about $10.6 billion). The budget is based on a projected oil price of $46 per barrel and a daily export rate of 3.8 million barrels.
The bulk of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s recent demands have not been met. The Region's wants its share returned to 17 percent.
The suggested Iraqi draft budget for Fiscal Year 2019 puts the Kurdistan Region's budget share at 12.67 percent, amounting to around 8 trillion Iraqi dinars (about $6.72 billion).