PUK, Gorran call for formation of decision-making delegation for talks with Baghdad

PUK Co-leaders Bafel Talabani (L) and Lahur Sheikh Jangi welcomes Gorran leader Omer Said Ali in Dabashan, Sulaimani, November 29, 2020. (Bzhar Dabakh/Esta Media Network)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Change Movement (Gorran) called for the formation of a decision-making delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for talks with Baghdad.

A delegation from Gorran led by General Coordinator Omer Said Ali met with a PUK delegation headed by Co-leaders Bafel Talabani and Lahur Sheikh Jangi in Dabashan in Sulaimani on Sunday.

The officials discussed the latest political and economic developments in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as well as the poor livelihood of the Region’s people and public sectors, who have not been paid for more than 50 days.

“A decision-making delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government should be formed immediately and visit Baghdad for talks on solutions to the Kurdistan Region’s budget and salaries,” both parties said in a joint statement.

In April, the federal government, led by former prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, cut off all budget transfers to the Kurdistan Region due to the KRG’s failure to export 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) through Baghdad.

In November 2019, Erbil and Baghdad reached a deal to resolve their ongoing disagreement over oil, after Erbil agreed to export 250,000 bpd through Baghdad to Turkey’s Ceyhan port in exchange for the Region’s share of the federal budget.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil eased after Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office in May. Kadhimi told the KRG prime minister in a telephone call in August that the federal government would send 320 billion Iraqi dinars to the Kurdistan Region as payment for the Region’s employees until the end of the year.

But a loan law, adopted by the Iraqi Council of Representatives on Nov. 12, commits the KRG to hand over non-oil revenues and an amount of oil which SOMO indicates to the federal government in exchange for the Region’s share.

On November 16, KRG representative in Baghdad Faris Issa said Baghdad would keep sending 320 billion dinars to the Region until the federal budget for fiscal year 2021 will be approved.

“What is written in the loan law will not affect the 320 billion dinars,” he said.

The federal government, however, has yet to transfer salaries of the Region’s public servants, despite distributing payments of its employees for the month of October.

PUK and Gorran also discussed decentralization in the Kurdistan Region. “We welcome the steps taken in proceeding the administrative and financial decentralization, as how it has been mentioned in the ninth cabinet of the KRG,” the statement read.

*This story was updated at 07:37 p.m. EBL time 

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