DEPUTY PM: KRG WAITING FOR BAGHDAD’S RESPONSE TO DISCUSSING BUDGET

“We are ready to send a delegation to Baghdad to discuss the region’s share from Iraq’s budget,” KRG deputy premier Qubad Talabani said when asked by a NRT reporter during a press conference at Haji Omaran border crossing on Wednesday (January 25).

The deputy PM added that the government would reorganize itself in 2017 and that it would have several projects coming this year.

The KRG has faced an economic crisis since a dispute with Baghdad in early 2014 saw its share of the Iraqi federal budget delayed. Erbil increased independent oil exports in an effort to make up for dwindling payments, further straining relations with the central government.

The global slump in oil prices, fight against Islamic State (ISIS) and influx of Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis have added more pressure on the KRG’s economy.

The KRG has struggled to pay salaries on time for public employees in the region, with some having gone up to five months without wages.

Senior KRG officials announced earlier this month they would cut government employee salaries by 15 to 75 percent, depending on position and salary bracket, as part of austerity measures to deal with the ongoing economic crisis.

(NRT)