Kurdistan Regional Government
SAT, 17 MAR 2018 21:20 Erbil, GMT +3

Statement by KRG Council of Ministers on Prime Minister Al-Abadi’s press briefing

THU, 9 NOV 2017 12:47 | KRG Cabinet

In his weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi addressed a number of issues regarding the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Regional Government Council of Ministers, while preferring such issues be discussed on negotiation table and not through the media, finds it necessary to respond to Prime Minister Al-Abadi’s statements:

1. The KRG welcomes the initiative of the Iraqi Prime Minister to send the salaries of the civil servants of the Kurdistan Region.

2. Prime Minister Al-Abadi expressed doubt regarding the number of payroll beneficiaries in the Kurdistan Region. The KRG Council of Ministers is fully prepared to submit all payroll lists and necessary information regarding salaries, supported by biometric data to confirm accurate numbers.

3. We call upon Prime Minister Al-Abadi to reconsider the amount of budget allocated for monthly personnel compensations within the 2018 draft budget of 334 billion Iraqi Dinars. The amount actually required according to credible data is 897 billion and 500 million Iraqi Dinars. Baghdad’s proposed amount is, thus, 563 billion and 500 million Iraqi Dinars short.

4. The draft 2018 budget tables do not clearly allocate any amount for the Kurdistan Peshmerga forces, only an unclear reference to a percentage to be allocated within the budget of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense Ground Forces. We were expecting the Iraqi Prime Minister to appreciate the role and sacrifices of the Peshmerga forces who heroically fought against terrorists alongside other Iraqi forces. Mr. Al-Abadi, himself, and the international coalition have testified to the effective role of the Peshmerga forces in defeating terrorists.

5. The Iraqi Prime Minister voiced doubts regarding the transparency of oil and gas production and export by the Kurdistan Region. The KRG in 2016 contracted two reputable international auditing companies to audit its oil and gas sector. These two companies are independently auditing the entire oil and gas income and expenditures since the start of investment in this sector. The auditing process is ongoing. The KRG stands ready to disclose the auditing reports to the public and the federal government.

6. Regarding handing over the Kurdistan Region oil to the federal government, we reiterate that this is a process to be conducted within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution. Also, the Kurdistan Region’s financial dues to the International Oil Companies, IOCs, under the legally signed contracts, should be guaranteed. However, while the draft 2018 budget allocates 16 trillion Dinars for the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, the Kurdistan Region is required to export daily 250,000 barrels of oil without any reference to paying the financial dues of the IOCs.

7. While the Iraqi Prime Minister estimated that KRG sold 550,000 barrels of oil in October 2017 and questioned how the amount was spent, the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources, in a statement, refuted the allegation about the figure and doubts about the sale, stressing that it was used to pay August 2017 personnel salaries.

8. As to Mr. Al-Abadi’s statement of providing the Kurdistan Region refineries with crude oil, we also welcome this initiative, though crude oil has yet to arrive at the Region’s refineries from federal producers.

9. Reducing the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget from 17 percent to 12.6 percent violates an agreement between the KRG and the federal government that was arrived at in lieu of an official, credible census. Further, the KRG never received the full 17 percent of its share due to sovereign budget amounts being first deducted from total national revenue before the 17 percent is allocated. As a federal region and partner, the KRG has had neither a say in the sovereign budget nor has benefitted from it. This is the situation despite the Kurdistan Region's nearly 30 percent population increase due to hosting more than 1.5 million displaced people from other parts of Iraq, and Syrian refugees who have required shelter and security, health and education, water and sanitation, and electricity despite KRG’s financial crisis and hardship.

Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers
8 November 2017