Parliament Delays Budget Vote To Thursday's Evening

Parliament Delays Budget Vote To Thursday's Evening

Shafaq News/ Iraq's legislative body was compelled to reschedule a pivotal budget vote from its original Thursday morning timeslot to the evening, an insider revealed.

This delayed vote represents an attempt to break the six-month-long impasse that the Iraqi budget has been ensnared in, owing to political wrangling over the budget's stipulations.

Despite the delays, a sense of optimism pervades certain political factions who hope that continued meetings and dialogue will eventually break the stalemate, culminating in the approval of the suspended budget.

Significantly, the budget in question extends its fiscal plan across the years 2023 to 2025, indicative of the Mohammad Shia al-Sudani's cabinet long-term economic forecasting. The original date for its ratification was set for Thursday, June 8, however, the procedural disagreement over amendments has hindered progress.

In an illustrative example of the contentious nature of these amendments, a provision that previously demanded the Kurdistan Region to export a minimum of 400,000 barrels of oil daily, has now been revised. The parliamentary Finance Committee voted for the change, which now stipulates that the Region should instead surrender the aforementioned quantity of crude oil to the Ministry of Oil for either exportation via the state-owned SOMO company or for local consumption within Iraqi refineries.

Those modification has not been received without protest. The presiding authority and government of the Kurdistan Region have voiced their discontent over the alterations made to the region-specific clauses in the budget. Their grievance lies in their belief that these changes contradict laws, constitutional provisions, and pre-established agreements between Erbil and Baghdad. These agreements served as the foundation for the establishment of the incumbent federal government under al-Sudani.

Adding to the chorus of dissatisfaction, the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, expressed his "deep concern" about the changes he perceives as affecting the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region in the federal budget bill, decisively rejecting them.

This sentiment was mirrored by Masrour Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, who denounced the changes to the federal budget bill by the Parliamentary Finance Committee as a breach of a prior agreement with al-Sudani and his government. He stressed on the respect for the terms of the foundational agreement between Erbil and Baghdad.

The Parliamentary Finance Committee had earlier voted in favor of obligating the Kurdistan Region to reimburse 10% on a monthly basis of the deducted salaries of its employees. This has been included in the budget amendments currently being deliberated upon.

Adding further fuel to the ongoing tensions, Mustafa Sanad, a member of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, confirmed the committee's vote on amending clauses related to the region in the budget law concerning oil delivery. He also pointed to the withdrawal of lawmakers from the Democratic Party's bloc from the meeting, a move that indicates deepening fault lines in the debate.

On March 13, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a record-breaking budget amounting to IQD 197.828 trillion (about USD 152.2 billion). The plan did not evade criticism, however, with a notable deficit of IQD 63 trillion and rising global oil prices, which provide over 95% of Iraq's fiscal revenue.

Despite this, resistance from financial and legal experts concerning the budget's provisions have stymied its passage to approval, given the intricate challenges to the governance of this resource-rich nation.

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