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Kurdish, Iraqi leaders voice hope of better relations as 2021 budget passed

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kurdistan Region and Iraqi leaders have spoken of their hope and optimism that the Wednesday passage of the 2021 budget bill will lead to closer ties between Erbil and Baghdad.

The budget approval puts an end to months of disputes between Erbil and Baghdad over the Kurdistan Region’s share of federal funds.

“We hope that this becomes a precursor for developing relations between the Kurdistan Region, the federal government, and all political parties,” Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said in a statement early Thursday morning.

“We ensure everyone that we will instantly start abiding by this law,” he added, calling on Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ministries to work with their Baghdad counterparts to implement the budget.

The budget bill, approved by the Iraqi Council of Ministers in December, took more than three months to be passed by Iraq’s parliament.

Talabani led a KRG delegation to Baghdad several times in an attempt to resolve budget disputes.

The budget was passed with several edits. The Kurdistan Region will hand over the revenue of no less than 250,000 barrels of oil at state-regulated prices to Baghdad in exchange for federal funds, according to the legislation passed on Wednesday.

Deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament Bashir al-Haddad told Rudaw’s Halkawt Aziz that the Kurdistan Region’s share was allocated at 12.67 percent of the budget.

“Passing the Iraqi budget is a step toward improving the livelihood of people and reviving the economy,” Iraqi President Barham Salih said in a tweet late Wednesday night, shortly after the bill was passed.

“We hope that everyone abides by the law. Approving the budget could be a good start and a boost toward fixing the other problems between Kurdistan Region and the federal government,” read a statement from Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, who expressed his gratitude for Talabani, the KRG delegation, and Kurdish representatives in the parliament.

Iraq and the Kurdistan Region’s prime ministers have also spoken optimistically about the passage of the bill.

“Iraq needs cooperation and mutual helping hands when it comes to solving problems, stability, prosperity, and a better future, and we all need to support such an approach,” Barzani added.

“Despite all the comments, approving the budget is an important step forward, and it is proof that cooperation is what brings forth progress and stability,” Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a tweet.

“We did not get everything we wanted, but the law is consistent with key principles of the constitution from which we have not wavered,” Kurdistan Region PM Masrour Barzani said in a statement, describing the parliamentary vote of approval as a “milestone moment for the KRG.”

“I hope to see every article of the budget law implemented and federal payments finally restored to the KRG. Its full implementation would provide both governments with recourse against the disputes over payments since 2004,” he added. “These steps will underpin restored cooperation and trust, essential tenets of all we will go on to achieve.”

Source: Rudaw, April 1st. 2021



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