Kurdish MPs: Most demands not met in boycotted budget bill including Peshmerga salaries

The parliament in Baghdad voted on the Iraqi budget bill for 2018 during a session boycotted on Thursday by Kurdish MPs, who say “most of their demands were not met,” including the budget for the Kurdish Peshmerga.

There were two main changes made to the bill, Rudaw’s correspondent for the Iraqi parliament, Halkawt Aziz, reported.

First, the Kurdistan Region is refereed as “Kurdistan Region” not “provinces of Kurdistan”

Second, a budget has been allocated for Peshmerga forces’ operational needs, but not for their salaries.

Aram Sheikh Mohammed, a Kurdish MP who is also deputy speaker, told reporters at a press conference attended by all Kurdish factions that the three presidencies of Iraq were supposed to meet later in the day to find a negotiated way to resolve the budget disagreement.

The session held today by the Iraqi parliament “aborted,” all such attempts, Mohammed said, adding that the meeting between the presidencies of the Iraqi parliament, Council of Ministers and the Iraqi presidency may no longer be needed.

The Kurdish factions, in their joint statement, called on the international community, and the Kurdish parties to take all measures “to correct the injustice” against the Kurdistan Region.

They said that “most of their demands were not met,” including the budget for the Kurdish Peshmerga.

“We reject the bill [as it is],”the statement added.

Masoud Haider, an MP from Gorran, told Rudaw that Kurdish MPs boycotted the session because the budget bill has not met Kurdish demands.

Haider claimed that the Shiite and Sunni MPs have “plotted” against the Kurdistan Region to pass the bill in spite of Kurdish objections.

Salim al-Jabouri, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said earlier this week that Iraqi MPs had reached a formula “acceptable” to everyone. Kurdish MPs did not attend that meeting with Jabouri in Baghdad.

The Kurdistan Region demands the Iraqi government to allocate 17 percent of the Iraqi budget, as has been the case since the new government formed after the US-led invasion.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has insisted that the KRG’s share should be less, in proportion to the Kurdish population, estimated by Baghdad to be 12.6 percent.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in December that the proposed amount is not enough to cover the needs of the Kurdistan Region in 2018.

The Iraqi government cut the KRG’s share of the budget in early 2014 because of Kurdistan’s plans to export oil to the international markets — independent of Baghdad.

The budget cut has caused an ongoing financial crisis, further worsened after the Kurdistan Region lost control of the Kirkuk oil fields to Iraqi forces in October.