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Using national currency needed for respecting state sovereignty, says Iraqi PM advisor

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The financial advisor to Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday stressed the need for all internal transactions to be conducted using the Iraqi dinar, telling Rudaw that using anything other than the national currency is a disrespect to the state’s sovereignty.

The Iraqi dinar has been losing value against the US dollar for several months, leading to a surge in prices of basic goods and consequent outcry from the Iraqi public. The depreciation has been attributed to the smuggling of dollars out of Iraq, mainly to neighboring Iran.

The Iraqi government has for months been trying to control the fluctuations in the exchange rate between the dinar and the US dollar. The value of one dollar currently sits at around 1,530 dinars in the currency markets of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, which is significantly higher than the value set out in the federal budget.

“One of the requirements for any country to respect its sovereignty is that there should not be two currencies within the economy,” Mudher Mohammed Saleh, the financial advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani, told Rudaw.

“The purpose of foreign currency is to deal with it outside the [national] economy, so it is not possible to consider the existence of a price in the dollar and a price in the dinar: one rises and the other falls. No monetary policy can control such a situation,” he added.

The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) in September announced that all the transactions inside Iraq would be made using Iraqi dinars starting in 2024.

The advisor stressed that all internal transactions, including the payment of financial entitlements and salaries, need to be made using the Iraqi dinar, while external transactions can be carried out using foreign currencies at their specified exchange rates.

The 2023, 2024, and 2025 Iraqi federal budget, passed in June, set the exchange rate of $1 to 1,320 Iraqi dinars. The ongoing smuggling has prevented the suggested value from being reached.

“The exchange rate will be fixed, especially since it has been fixed in the federal budget law for three years,” said Saleh.

The discrepancy between the dinar value set in the budget and the exchange markets has compounded the economic woes of citizens, who typically receive their salaries in dinars but are forced to deal with more expensive prices due to the devaluation of the currency on the black market.

The US in July banned transactions with 14 Iraqi banks for allegedly violating its rules. The move further dropped the value of the Iraqi currency.

Source: Rudaw, 21. December 2023



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