KRG PM Barzani thanks Japan for helping to solve electricity shortages

 KRG PM Barzani thanks Japan for helping to solve electricity shortages

After acknowledging electricity shortages in the Kurdistan Region last week, the government announced a plan to improve the system in partnership with a Japanese agency on Wednesday.

"We are thanking the Japanese government, who within the framework of its loans program for Iraq and out of the KRG's share, implemented this project for the establishment of the Development and Training Center for the electricity ministry in a bid to boost the electricity sector of the Kurdistan Region," said KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani.

The 10-year project will cost nearly $120 million, according to the Japanese consulate. 

"It was financially supported through small investment loans from the Japanese government. The project will supply electricity to the provinces of Erbil, Duhok, and Sulaimani along with maintenance for the ministry,” Consul Katsumi Moriyasu said in the ceremony.

“The Japanese government is proud to be a main partner in this strategic project that will benefit all people and industries,” he added. 

Moriyasu expects the project will boost job creation, especially in the construction sector. 

"It will also strengthen bilateral relations and friendly relations between Japan and the Kurdistan Region," he said.

The KRG premier thanked the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and US-based attorney search firm Lord Gurman & Lewis for their support.

"The opening of this center for training and developing the human, professional, and scientific resources of the cadres and employees of the electricity ministry is part of our reforms," he said.

Barzani reiterated the financial crises facing the Kurdistan Region: budget cuts by Baghdad, the ISIS conflict, sheltering 1.8 million IDPs and refugees, the drop in oil prices and "the political stalemates of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region." 

He said: "All impeded the execution of the bulk of all plans and programs to develop and advance life, and all the services that the KRG had planned for. 

Yet, the will of the government and people of Kurdistan for a better life and development, remain as it is."

Barzani explained Kurdistan is used to "hardship" but "has always had the will to make reforms."

"On its hardest days, it moved on as far as it was capable to go to, for carrying out its reform plans."

The prime minister and his deputy have spearheaded the reform plans, in hopes of a more trusted government.

"The government's steps towards reform in terms of energy and oil, administration and finance, the revision of the employee's payroll lists and biometric registration process and reducing the power produce expenses, have all taken place according to the global standards," said Barzani.

The Kurdistan Region will hold a parliamentary election on September 30. 

Barzani hopes other ministries will follow suit and "all benefit from it for training, workshops and any other activities aimed at developing human and scientific resources."

He also hinted at anticipated talks between Kurdistani parties and Baghdad.

"I am once again calling on all the Kurdistani sides to become united and harmonious and enter into talks for the government formation attempts with a joint package. Our main objective is to achieve a genuine partnership in Iraq and secure the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region," he concluded.

With temperatures rising above 45 degrees Celsius in July and the continued sheltering of more than 1.3 million IDPs and refugees, electricity availability has reduced across the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Region  a pay-as-you-go system to address insufficient electricity supplies in Duhok. 

Depending on the area, the KRG says it offers 10-15 hours of electricity in the summer, and 24 hours of electricity in the winter, but users often don't see that, so they turn to private generators, which rely on private fuel, whose prices have increased.