The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is ready to hand over oil, airports, border points, and all revenues to Baghdad if Iraq’s federal government gives the Kurdish region its 17-percent share of the budget, KRG’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Monday.
“We’re ready to handover oil, airports, border gates, and all revenues to Baghdad if the [Federal Government of Iraq] sends the salaries [of KRG employees], the Kurdistan Region’s 17 percent constitutional budget share, and other financial dues,” Kurdistan24 news outlet quoted Barzani as saying at a press conference in Erbil today.
In a press statement on Sunday, the KRG’s council of ministers asked Iraq not to approve the 2018 federal budget bill “that was prepared by the Iraqi Ministry of Finance without the participation of the Kurdistan Region.”
The KRG says that “reducing the budget share of the Kurdistan Region, which occurs for the first time since 2005, from 17 percent to 12.6 percent,” is breaching Iraq’s constitution in the part that regions should be allocated a share of the national revenues, taking into consideration their population. Iraq and Kurdistan have agreed that the Kurdish region makes up 17 percent of the total population of Iraq, KRG said yesterday.
Tensions have been high, and oil flows from north Iraq were disrupted after the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region voted for independence at the end of September in a referendum not recognized by either Iraq or any international power.
Since the Iraqi army took control of the fields in the oil-rich Kirkuk area in mid-October, reports of disruptions in oil flows have been a daily occurrence, and, according to an official at the Kirkuk provincial council, Iraq’s oil ministry has ordered a stop to all oil exports from Kirkuk’s oil fields to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
At Monday’s press conference, KRG’s Prime Minister Barzani said that “The Kurdistan Region’s revenue has been decreased by over 50 percent following the [Oct. 16] conflict in Kirkuk”, adding that, “It will definitely have its implications”.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ruled today that no governorate or region can secede. In Kirkuk, two suicide bombers in a Shiite mosque killed at least five people on Sunday and wounded more than 20 in the first suicide attack since Iraq’s federal forces retook the oil-rich Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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