Kurdistan Region lawmakers in Baghdad deliver a statement to media after voting on the budget. Photo: Rudaw
BAGHDAD – Iraq’s parliament have passed a measure in the 2019 budget bill that guarantees Baghdad will pay the salaries of the state employees in the Kurdistan Region and the Peshmerga.
"We are announcing good news for the Kurdistan Region civil servants and Peshmerga soldiers,” lawmakers from the Kurdistan Region bloc in the Iraqi parliament announced in a statement to media immediately after the vote.
“Today we managed to guarantee their salaries in the budget very successfully. A portion of the amount earmarked to the Defence Ministry of Iraq will go to the Peshmerga," the stated.
"Therefore, from now on, Kurdistan Region [state] employees will receive their salaries every month and it will help put an end to the salary saving system that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) implemented."
Related: Kurds finally happy with Iraqi budget; vote expected today
In 2014, faced with a financial crisis caused by a budget cut from Baghdad, falling oil prices, a costly war with ISIS, and hosting nearly 2 million displaced Iraqis, the KRG introduced a salary saving scheme.
The wildly unpopular measure slashed the salaries of state employees and delayed payments for months at a time.
Fed up with the austerity, public sector employees, mainly in Sulaimani, staged protests and strikes in early 2018.
The KRG reviewed its payroll list – removing thousands of ghost employees – and stepped up negotiations with Baghdad to restore payments from federal coffers.
Negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad have improved with the new Iraqi government.
The amount of money agreed on in the budget “is enough for the KRG to end the saving system and return the money that was saved to the employees, through installments," said Rebwar Karim Wali, a Kurdish MP in Baghdad.
The budget also includes funds for ISIS war victims, including the families of 1,800 Peshmerga who were killed in the war with terror group and the 10,000 wounded. The amount each family and victim will receive was not specified.
Voting on the rest of the budget bill continues.