In Rudaw 

Iraqi civil servants, retirees hard-hit by budget delays

Iraqi civil servants and retirees are caught up in an ongoing budget crisis in Baghdad, having not been paid for 45 days.

“Do landlords tolerate it if you pay their rent late? Of course not. The salary we receive, we must immediately spend it on other things,” Haji Qasim, a retiree in Baghdad, who relies solely on his monthly pension of 300,000 dinars ($252) told Rudaw.

“Where to get money to pay medicines,  generator bills? This salary delay is not in the interest of Iraqis at all,” Qasim added.

Iraq’s economy has come to a standstill in recent months, gripped by an economic crisis owing to the coronavirus pandemic as well as a drop in oil prices.

“The delay in salaries is one hundred percent affecting our business,” said Haider Ahmed, a butcher in Baghdad. “Where are people are supposed to get money from if the government does not pay them?”

“This issue has sabotaged the economy and our work,” he said.

Nine months into the fiscal year, the Iraqi government submitted its draft  budget for the rest of 2020 to the parliament for approval two weeks ago.

Lawmakers are now pushing for borrowing laws to be fast-tracked, unable to pass a full budget for the rest of the year.

According to a senior official cited by Iraq Oil report, Iraq needs almost 8 trillion dinars monthly ($6.8 billion) for salaries and government expenses, with only $3 billion in oil revenues brought in over the last six months.

According to state media, Baghdad has debts of around 27 trillion dinars ($22.5 billion).

The Iraqi government has 6.5 million employees on its payrolls.

A lawmaker said they are informed by the finance ministry that the payments will be made as soon as possible.

“Salary payments have long been delayed, but the finance ministry informed us that they have finished 85 percent of their work to pay salaries” Taha Muji, an MP from Nasir Coalition in the Iraqi parliament told Rudaw on Tuesday, adding that salaries will be paid on Thursday.

Delay in payments has too affected the Kurdistan Region, but an Iraqi government spokesperson said they are committed to a budget deal they have struck with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

“The Iraqi government is committed to send 320 billion dinars on a monthly basis to cover a significant part of the salaries of our nation in Kurdistan,” Iraqi Prime Minister Spokesperson Ahmad Mullah Talal told reporters in Baghdad on Tuesday. Source