In Rudaw 

Vote on budget bill will be postponed until after Newroz holiday: Iraqi MP

An Iraqi MP on Tuesday said that a vote on the federal budget bill will be postponed until after the Newroz holiday, saying they don’t want to vote without their “brothers” in the Kurdistan Region.

“The issue of the budget took a very long time, as it was mainly delayed by the federal government, who sent it late to the parliament, and was also delayed by the the Finance Committee,” Badr al-Ziyadi, an MP and member of the Sairoon Alliance, told Rudaw’s Mushtaq Ramadhan on Tuesday.

The MP also said that “the budget will be postponed until after the Newroz holidays until the dispute ends,” adding that “we do not want to vote on a budget without our brothers in the Kurdistan Region while they are on holiday.”

The Kurdistan Region delegation returned to Baghdad on Tuesday.

Baghdad failed to pass a budget in 2020 because of political turmoil, record low oil prices, and the coronavirus pandemic. In November, Iraqi lawmakers passed the Fiscal Deficit Coverage Bill approving loans to cover civil servant salaries for the last two months of the year.

The bill passed with a majority vote, despite a walkout staged by Kurdish MPs angered that Erbil is obliged to hand over an unspecified amount of oil in exchange for funds – a clause they said was not in the original bill. Attention has now turned to the 2021 budget, with disagreements over how much oil the KRG should give Baghdad.

A long-standing issue between the the federal and regional governments, a KRG delegation has visited the capital several times to try and resolve the budget issue.

The delegation was last in Baghdad late January to finalize negotiations with Iraqi political parties represented in the parliament as well as its finance committee, after not reaching a final agreement in their visit last month but returned empty-handed three days later.

“There are some simple technical points on Kurdistan Region’s share in the federal budget, I don’t think there are any obstacles like before, because the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), with our brothers in the Kurdistan Region, have taken great initiatives to the Federal Government,” deputy parliament speaker Hasan Kaabi told Rudaw’s Sangar Abdulrahman on Tuesday.

Dara Rashid, KRG Minister of Planning, meanwhile, told Rudaw’s Ranja Jamal that they are prepared for an agreement or disagreement.

“In case of a disagreement, which we don’t even like to talk about, the Kurdistan region [will] depend on its incomes, oil, and non-oil.”

“We are hoping for an agreement because if there isn’t an agreement this time, it’s not the Kurdistan Region’s fault … the Kurdistan Region has shown more leniency and has agreed to all the requests,” he added.