The Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Finance on Monday rejected rumors surrounding the misappropriation of salaries sent by Baghdad as part of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) budget.
The comments came during a joint press briefing held in Erbil by the Minister of Finance and Economy in question, Rebaz Hamlan, and KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee.
“In 2018, the federal government of Iraq sent the salaries of KRG civil servants for nine months, amounting to IQD 2,857 trillion,” Hamlan said.
He claimed the Iraqi government sent the January salaries in April 2018, delaying payments which are now being done in arrears.
“In total, we redirected IQD 3,618 trillion of the KRG’s own revenue to overdue 2018 salaries as the amount sent by Baghdad did not cover the KRG’s civil servant expenses,” the minister explained.
The press conference was held amid rumors circulating on Kurdish social media networks claiming Baghdad had sent funds for five months of salaries for KRG employees, but that the Kurdish government was holding the money back.
“Yes, the central government [Baghdad] sent five-months’ worth of salaries to the KRG in 2019 in five separate batches… in total, we received IQD 2,266 trillion,” the Kurdish minister added, stating the KRG once more added IQD 1,831 trillion of its revenue to compensate workers and put an end to unpopular austerity measures.
The Kurdistan Region suffered from a financial crisis in 2014 after Baghdad began withholding Erbil’s share of the national budget. According to senior Kurdish officials, the fight against the Islamic State, an international drop in oil prices, and the influx of 1.8 million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Syria and other parts of Iraq to the Kurdistan Region also contributed to the near-collapse of the local economy.