The Iraqi Parliament has passed the Deficit Law today, which will allow the government to borrow 12 trillion Iraqi dinars (about $10.1 billion) to be able to pay civil servants’ salaries, pensions and other essential spending.
The government had originally requested an amount of $35 billion to be borrowed.
For the Kurdistan Regional Government to get its share, it must deliver part of its oil revenues, to be determined by SOMO (State Organization for Marketing of Oil), along with other “federal revenues.”
In a statement issued today, the Iraqi Parliament explains that the bill was necessary due to the delay in approval of the 2020 Budget Law. The aim of the bill “is to provide necessary funds for civil servants, pensioners, the social safety net and food rations,” among other necessary spending, according to the statement.
“The speaker of parliament stated that the law must pass either by a majority of votes or by agreement,” the statement reads.
Most of the Kurdish MPs walked out of the session in protest, as they disagreed with the article related to the Kurdistan Region share.
Rébawar Karim Mahmoud, an independent Kurdish MP, wrote on his Facebook page: “Due to the untrustworthiness of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Iraqi parties were not ready to make any concessions,” and that “the decision was not withdrawing payment, but a segment was added that the Kurdistan Region must submit an amount of oil to the Federal Government. In exchange for that, the Kurdistan Region will get a share of the budget.”
On 18 October, the Kurdistan Regional Government in a written document expressed its willingness to submit the oil.
Bakhtiyar Shaways, a Kurdish MPs on PUK list, has written on his Facebook page: “The [agreed upon amount of] 320 billion dinars for the Kurdistan Region has been withdrawn. The loan bill has been passed with the majority votes of Shi’a and Sunni [MPs] without the Kurdistan Region share.”
Viyan Sabri, head of KDP list at the Iraqi Parliament, stated that the Shi’a MPs and “even the speaker of Parliament,” had told them to attend the session with the promise that they would delay including the clause about Kurdistan Region.
“Even though the [members] of the Shi’a parties hurled very odious words at the Kurdistan Region, we remained silent. Yet, the Shi’a parties didn’t fulfil their promise and the clause regarding the Kurdistan Region was included in the voting as they wanted and approved it,” Sabri added.
But not all Kurdish MPs put the blame on Baghdad. Hoshyar Abdulah (Change Movement) and Ahmad Rasheed (Islamic Group) in a joint statement urged the KRG to attempt to reach an agreement with Baghdad and submit the amount of oil SOMO determines.
Kurdish MP Ghalib Muhammad Ali (Change Movement) was more outspoken and accused KRG officials of corruption and political posturing exploiting Kurdish nationalism.