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LATE CHANGE TO ERBIL-BAGHDAD DEAL THREW BUDGET AGREEMENT INTO DISARRAY: MP

Explaining to reporters how an apparent breakthrough in tense budget talks unraveled over the weekend, Rapporteur of the Council of Representatives’ Finance Committee Ahmed Safar alleged on Sunday (March 21) that an additional section was added to the agreement reached between Erbil and Baghdad without the approval of the parties from the Kurdistan Region.

The deal had been that the Kurdistan Region would submit 460,000 barrels of crude oil per day to the federal government’s oil marketer SOMO in return for 12.67 percent of the federal budget, so that Kurdistan Regional Govern (KRG) could pay public sector salaries and fund other government programs.

In the event of a disagreement, the initial deal said that Baghdad would continue to send money for salaries as it had between January 2019 and April 2020, even if it penalized the KRG by cutting funding for operational expenditures.

The change altered this to say that Baghdad could cut transfers for salaries as well, which mirrors situation since April 2020, Safar told a press conference.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) lawmaker said that the budget is meant to benefit the entire country, not just a group of party elites.

Safar also argued that problems between Baghdad and Erbil are not wholly responsible for derailing the budget vote, which had been scheduled for last week, saying that lawmakers from the Shia and Sunni blocs were unhappy about the devaluation of the Iraqi dinar and the budget shares allocated to their governorates.

Council of Representatives lawmaker Muthanna al-Samarai on Sunday called on Parliament to deal with the Federal Budget Law “seriously” and hold a vote.

“Disagreements between the political blocs in the Council of Representatives is what is delaying the passage of the budget,” al-Samarai, who represents Saladin governorate for the Sunni bloc’s Civil Track Party, said during a televised interview.

The vote on the budget has been postponed until March 27.