Iraqi parliament passes emergency bill to cover civil servants’ salaries

Iraq’s parliament, with a majority vote on Thursday, passed a finance bill that gives the government access to much-needed funds to cover a growing financial deficit of around $ 28 billion.

Despite the emergency spending bill approving less than a third of the amount initially requested by the state, the funds guaranteed will mainly cover civil servant salaries, food imports and crucial projects.

Led by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the government has asked parliament to back its borrowing of around $ 28 billion to cover expenses for the next three months, but lawmakers have refused to allow the state to accede. to $ 10 billion, an amount deemed sufficient to pay the salaries of some 5 million civil servants.

Parliament had not adopted a draft budget for 2020 due to disputes between lawmakers. The emergency spending bill will allow the government to meet its obligations for the remainder of the year.

Even more, differences emerged in Thursday’s vote after Kurdish lawmakers opposed an article requiring the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to hand over revenues generated from regional oil exports as a condition of receiving its monthly share of the new financing plan.

The KRG disagrees with the federal government in Baghdad over the allocation of its oil revenues. Kurdish lawmakers say their part should not be tied to unresolved oil issues between Baghdad and their region.

The KRG said a high-level meeting would be held to decide on an official position.

Most Kurdish lawmakers left the voting session, lawmakers said.

The World Bank estimates that the Iraqi economy will shrink by 9.7% in 2020 due to lower oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, after growing 4.4% in 2019.

“The continuation of the parliamentary session until late at dawn Thursday reflects an insistence on passing the law with the aim of allowing the government to fulfill its obligations during the three months of the year 2020,” he said. said the spokesman of the speaker of parliament Shaker Hamed. Asharq Al-Awsat.

Hamed explained that there were differences in not restricting the state to lending and maintaining optimal use of resources.

Regardless of how resources are secured, the government must be pushed to submit its budget for 2021 without debts that affect the years to come, Hamed noted.

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