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The Iraqi parliament prepares to vote on the 2021 budget … and fears of political trade-offs

The Iraqi parliament has set next Monday as the date for voting on the 2021 budget, after more than 3 months of sharp disagreements over the terms of the budget, in which the total deficit is expected to reach nearly 20 billion dollars, with a total total of 88 billion dollars.

The price of a barrel of oil was calculated in the budget at $ 45, amid expectations of an increase in the last minute to $ 46 due to the current recovery in the global oil market.

Various Iraqi political forces express their concerns about what they describe as “political procrastination” by some parties to obstruct the passage of the budget again, by linking it to laws within the phenomenon of bartering in Parliament between the various political blocs and forces.

Over the past months, discussions over the budget resulted in a sharp reduction in the expenditures guaranteed by the government within it, leading to major changes in some items.

Various powers express their fears of “political procrastination” by some parties to obstruct the passage of the budget, by linking it to laws within the current barter phenomenon in Parliament

Operating expenses were reduced and a number of special items were deleted, such as conferences, hospitality, expenditures of the three presidencies (Parliament, the Republic and the government), expenditures of independent and governmental bodies and institutions, as well as grants and grants, and the suspension of allocations to several ministries and government departments that were deemed “excessive or unnecessary.”

Also, some internal resources were included within the general budget, such as collecting water, electricity, communications, and tax wages, investing public property by sale or renting to the private sector, and offering state treasury bonds in an amount of one and a half billion dollars, which led to the reduction of the supposed deficit from 50 One billion dollars to nearly 18 billion dollars.

It is expected that the size of the budget for the year 2021 will be at the threshold of 127 trillion dinars, instead of 164 trillion dinars (decreased from 113 billion dollars to about 88 billion dollars), and the price of one dollar will reach 1450 dinars.

According to recent understandings between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad, it has been agreed that the region’s share would be 12.67 percent of the total budget, and the region would deliver 250,000 barrels of oil per day from its fields to the Federal Ministry of Oil in Baghdad, and it is also committed to handing half of the proceeds of the border crossings to the region with Turkey and Iran.

During a session held yesterday evening, Monday, Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi directed to include the budget law on voting during next Monday’s session.

And political forces have previously linked the draft budget and the passage of the Federal Court law.

Iraqi Alliance MP Jassem Al-Bakhati told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed that “if the Federal Court law is passed in the Saturday session, the budget law will be passed,” stressing that “Saturday’s session will be decisive in this direction.”

During a session held yesterday evening, Monday, Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi directed that the budget law be included in the vote during next Monday’s session

The forces that linked the vote on the current year’s budget and the Federal Court’s law want to pass the paragraphs that they put in the last law, which included the presence of Islamic Sharia jurists, which was considered a “new step for the Islamization of the state and a departure from the civil approach stipulated in the constitution, and the politicization of the judiciary.”

The Kurdish forces did not hide their fears from this trend, especially since the forces that adopted it want to fulfill their conditions in the Federal Court Law, which means that the Budget Law has become dependent on the conditions of those forces by passing the court law.

The representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Alla Talabani, told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed: “We in the Patriotic Union refuse to link the budget law related to people’s sustenance to any controversial laws that the forces may not reach an agreement on.” The article related to the region’s share, and that the regional government agreed to it, but some forces in Baghdad objected to the text, but it did not send an alternative text for it.

Talabani confirmed that “there is procrastination and evasion by some forces, as until now we have not obtained an alternative text,” indicating that “we asked Kurdish blocs to send an alternative text in order to study it and go towards the option of passing the budget.”

Member of the Finance Committee, representative of the Kurdish forces Jamal Cougar, confirmed that the budget has become a political paper to achieve some agendas, adding, in an interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that “bodies have linked the budget law, the Federal Court and other laws, which caused the postponement of all discussions regarding The budget during the previous period. ”

Cougar stated that “the budget has become a political paper, especially since there is no need to link it with any other law, and this has not happened in any previous parliamentary session.”

He stressed that “the dispute over the budget is not a dispute between the governments of Baghdad and Erbil, because from the beginning of the discussions the paper was exploited under the pretext of differences between the region and the center,” considering that “there is a conflict of wills, and this is what affected the budget and prevented it from being passed during the previous period.”

The deputy added, “We view the budget on the basis that it is the citizen’s sustenance, and linking it to any other file is targeting the citizen’s food and is a big mistake, and the first and last victim is the citizen.”