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Samson: An assessment by the US State Department on Iraq “worries” Washington

12th June, 2020

The administration of US President Donald Trump is concerned that Iraq is not meeting its human rights obligations to detainees, according to a State Department assessment obtained by the US journal Foreign Policy

The magazine indicates that the Iraqi legal system is faltered due to the lack of judges, the overcrowding of its facilities and the use of bribes, in an indication of the challenges facing Iraq as a result of corruption that fueled widespread anti-government protests last year

The security and political situation in Iraq has left the judiciary weak, and depends on other parts of the government,” said the State Department report sent to Congress last April. He also pointed out that “the Iraqi judiciary suffers from the same rampant corruption that affects the rest of the Iraqi government

The State Department assessment also pointed out that the Iraqi justice system was affected by the implications of ISIS control of large parts of the country and the subsequent events that led to his expulsion. He notes that Baghdad suffers from a lack of competent judges, and it is accused of holding suspects associated with ISIS in isolation before the trial for months without contact with the outside world

Human Rights Watch estimated in December 2017 that Iraqi authorities were holding 20,000 prisoners suspected of links to ISIS. Non-governmental organizations that have been approved by the State Department assessment said that detainees are unable to appeal their detention decision and are often forced to pay bribes to drop the charges. Although the State Department is concerned about the status of Iraqi reforms, some members of Congress see the dialogue between Baghdad and Washington, which was launched on Thursday, as an opportunity to strengthen US relations with Iraq in light of reduced tensions with Iran

“The United States should use strategic dialogue as a new beginning to engage with the Iraqi government to create long-term stability in the country,” the American magazine quotes a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy

Murphy added that the talks represented an opportunity to help the new Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, in tackling corruption and achieving prosperity for a nation torn by years of war. “These are lofty goals that require sustained diplomatic attention and American financial support, and at the same time they are critical to American national security and regional stability in the long run,” he said   LINK

Don961:  Finance Committee: We received a notification about a ‘paper’ coming from the Al-Kazemi government

2020.06.12 – 11:18  Baghdad – people

The Finance Committee in the House of Representatives confirmed on Friday that the government intends to present a paper of radical reforms during the coming period, while pointing to the details of the borrowing law.

“The Minister of Finance informed the Finance Committee that the government will present a paper of radical reforms that includes all economic and financial aspects,” the committee’s rapporteur, Ahmed Al-Saffar, said in a statement followed by “Nass” (June 12, 2020).

He added that “the Finance Committee discussed government borrowing for the purpose of financing the deficit and paying salaries.”

He continued, “The text of the borrowing law indicates that the government is allowed to borrow abroad at $ 5 billion, and the internal amount is 15 trillion dinars from Iraqi banks for two months,” noting that “the vote on the law was postponed after talking about deductions in salaries.”

And the Finance Minister, Ali Abdul Amir Allawi, announced on Sunday, the need for Iraq to 7 and a half trillion dinars for operating expenses.

“We will continue to vote from local banks to finance salaries and ruling expenses,” Allawi said in a press conference, which was followed by “Nass” (June 7, 2020), stressing “work on borrowing from the World Bank to address the financial crisis.”

Allawi ruled out “approving the budget for the year 2020,” explaining “we are working on preparing for the budget for the year 2021, and we need 7 and a trillion dinars of operating expenses.”

On Sunday, MP Ahmed Hama Rashid affirmed that the Finance Committee would not agree to pass the borrowing bill except on condition.

“The Finance Committee is determined not to pass the borrowing bill unless the government sends the economic reform project side-by-side,” Rashid said, a member of the committee, in a statement received by Nass, a copy of it (7 June 2020).

A member of the Finance Committee added, “The government cannot be empowered to overburden the state with loans unless it is matched by austerity with unnecessary expenditures and an end to the constant waste of public money.”

And the financial advisor to the Prime Minister, Mazhar Muhammad Salih, expected, on Saturday, that the 2020 budget will reach 80 to 100 trillion dinars.

(June 6, 2020), Saleh said, “It is possible to prepare a federal budget bill for 2020 by the government that includes the actual expenses (that were previously achieved and spent) from the beginning of the fiscal year until June, and the sources of its financing, as well as the expenses for the next six months. To be built according to the principle of estimates of the price of crude oil in world markets and non-oil revenues. ”

He pointed out that “after the completion of the preparation of the budget law, it will become clear the size of the total deficit,” expecting that “the draft budget law will be presented for approval in the cabinet within the next two weeks to send it to the parliament for study and legislation.”

Saleh added, “In my personal assessment, the rate of calculating the price of a barrel of oil in the Federal Budget Law for the current year will be between 30 and 35 dollars,” expecting that “the total budget size will be between 80 to 100 trillion dinars.”

In turn, the decision of the Parliamentary Finance Committee Ahmad Al-Saffar confirmed that “the general budget law for the current fiscal year is supposed to be legislated by the government and parliament,” noting that his committee “needs about a month to complete the project review.”

He explained that “not to legislate the budget law in the current period will lose its value, given that the government works for a whole year without a budget,” adding that “this reason prompted us to issue a decision that obliges the government to know revenues, expenditures and deficits.”

He added that “the budget will focus on the operational side without investing because the remaining period is few and not sufficient to implement the investment projects that will be carried over to the budget of the year 2021,” noting that it “will include salaries for the ration card, medicines, security aspect and urgent and necessary matters.”

He pointed out that “the government began drafting the Federal Budget Law in order to send it to parliament in the specified periods.”

And revealed the Finance Committee in the House of Representatives, on Friday, an upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi and both the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank to provide 10 alternatives to overcome the current economic crisis and maintain the salaries of employees without deduction, and agree on what can be implemented from those alternatives.

Committee member Majid al-Waeli said in an interview with the official newspaper of Nass (June 5, 2020), that “there are many alternatives that can significantly reduce the severity of the current crisis, including an increase in the price of a barrel of oil that is sold by $ 5 to the affiliated refineries.” To the Ministry of Oil, while the rate of selling it according to the 2019 budget is $ 60, “indicating that” those refineries buy about one million barrels per day; that is, there is a difference in the price of $ 55, meaning that there is a price difference of $ 55 million. ”

Al-Waeli added, “These revenues can supplement the state treasury by 50%.”

And, “The other alternative is to reconsider the sums of real estate sold cheaply and leased with sums, especially those that are located in the heart of the capital and in distinct areas of it, as it can be re-evaluated again because some of them are haunted without paying any sums of rent at all.”

A member of the Parliamentary Finance Committee said, “There is a forthcoming meeting of the Finance Committee with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi and the Ministry of Finance next week to present those alternatives before him and implement what can be implemented from them.” He emphasized that “the committee is preparing an integrated study in the light of the reports submitted by each of the Central Bank Concerning the financial crisis and the government as a vision by the Council of Advisors, which dealt extensively with deduction of employee salaries as a solution to overcome the financial crisis. ”      LINK