Deputy PM rejects claims that KRG takes Basra oil revenue

KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani speaks in a press conference in Baghdad, December 22, 2020. (Photo: Azhi Omer)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is not responsible for Basra oil as some Iraqi parties accuse the Kurds of taking the province’s share of oil revenue, a senior Kurdish official said.

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said in an interview with National News Center that the Region’s share of the federal budget is five percent and that the KRG has not received any amount between 2014 and 2018.

“Some political parties are constantly accusing the Kurds of possessing Basra’s oil, but in fact we are not responsible, and the evidence of this is that the Region’s share of the federal budget is five percent,” Talabani was quoted as saying.

“If the sums were spent in investment projects in Basra or Dhi Qar, we would be happy. But these sums disappeared without knowing where they went,” he added.

Talabani further said Erbil and Baghdad reached an agreement in August 2020 and that the federal government would send 320 billion Iraqi dinars ($218 million) to the Region, in return, the KRG would allow a technical team from the federal government to monitor the border crossings in the Region.

“This agreement did not last long, and the federal government sent the money for only two months,” he said.

“Where were these sums spent? Were they spent on Baghdad, Basra or Saladin?” Talabani asked during the interview, as quoted by the National News Center.

“If the issue of Basra was solved by the Region’s entitlements from the funds allocated to it, we would have waived this entitlement,” he said.

He added that the KRG was ready to fulfill its obligations with the federal government, whether it is about the 250,000 barrels of per day or non-oil revenues.

The Region’s main source of income is oil and that the KRG uses it to spend on expenses, Talabani said in response to a question why Erbil does not hand over oil to the federal government.

“The main source of income is oil and through this many forms of expenditures are secured in the Region. Therefore, if we do not have such a single source, it means that there are no guarantees that we can obtain money to pay off debts which are on the Region.”

The KRG deputy premier hoped that Erbil and Baghdad can build “a new relationship related to oil and finance”.

“We have the faith that this will be achieved step by step, until we reach the establishment of a new SOMO company which there is a Kurdish member in its board of directors,” he added, referring to Iraq’s State Organization for Marketing of Oil.

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