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Baghdad has not transferred 320bn IQD to KRG bank account, claims minister

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Minister of State Khalid Shwani speaks to reporters at a news conference in Erbil, Kurdistan Region/ Iraq on September 21, 2020. (Photo Credit: NRT Digital Media/ Screenshot)
2020-09-21

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SULAIMANI — Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Minister of State Khalid Shwani claimed on Monday (September 21) that Iraq’s federal government has not yet sent the monthly transfer of 320 billion Iraqi dinars ($267 million) that it promised to under an agreement reached last month.

In April, Baghdad cut off all budget transfers to Erbil after the latter failed to send any oil to the federal government, as it was required to under the 2019 federal budget law. The move put huge financial pressure on the KRG, which repeatedly delayed and then cut public sector salaries.

The two sides reached a temporary agreement in early August where Baghdad would send 320 billion Iraqi dinars, in return for bringing customs procedures at the Region’s international border crossings under federal control.

During a press conference, Shwani said that the KRG is committed to the agreement and will continue to adhere to its terms until the approval of a federal budget law.

Lawmakers in Baghdad are working on a budget that will cover the final quarter of 2020, with the Council of Representatives debating the proposed bill this week.

A separate law for the 2021 budget is set to be drafted later.

“There is no indication that the [federal] government is against the sending of the amount of money, but the money has not been added to the Region’s bank account yet,” he said.

Despite the deal, more than month has passed since the KRG has paid public servants, with many worrying that the KRG will again delay salary payments.

Regarding the disputed areas, Shwani accused acting Kirkuk Governor Rakan al-Jabouri of facilitating the occupation of lands belonging to ethnic Kurds.

“The imposed Kirkuk governor is playing a high role in Arabizing the lands,” Shwani said, referring to Jabouri, who took over following the federal government’s takeover of the province in October 2017. Arabization was the policy of forced displacement of Kurds and other groups from the disputed areas in favor of Arab settlers pursued by the former Ba’ath regime.

“There are some judges inside the Kirkuk court that support the decisions of the imposed Kirkuk governor and help him and decide in his favor,” he said.

 (NRT Digital Media)