Iraq parliament to resume budget vote on Saturday as political blocs argue

Disagreements over Kurdistan region's share and oil revenues have stalled the session

The Iraqi parliament during a confidence vote on Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani's government in October. AFP
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Iraq’s parliament resumed a vote on the national budget on Friday night as divisions grow among political blocs over the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region's share.

The parliament voted on an amendment to article two, which details government income and expenditures, as well as many others on Friday, state-run Iraq News Agency said.

The parliament will reconvene on Saturday at 5pm to vote on a number of articles, including the contentious article 14, which deals with how to manage Kurdish oil revenue.

The oil producer has typically been plagued by budget delays, which the government's three-year proposal aimed to avoid.

The session was scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon but was postponed until late evening, when the MPs managed to vote on seven of 67 articles.

It was then postponed until Friday afternoon.

“Backroom discussions are ongoing on the budget to sort out the disagreements, especially on the Kurdish share,” said Vian Sabri, a Kurdish member of parliament.

“The afternoon session has been postponed until later tonight,” she said.

Disagreements over the details of the budget deteriorated last week after the parliamentary finance committee made several last-minute amendments that led to strong objections from Iraqi Kurdish leaders, namely in the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Intense negotiations among the various political blocs have been going on since March after the approval of the draft budget law.

This budget this year is set at $153 billion and is the largest proposed in Iraqi history.

Of that, 12.6 per cent is allocated for the Kurdistan region.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani said his government plans to repeat the same budget allocation in 2024 and 2025.

Oil is a source of tension between Kurdistan's autonomous regional government and federal authorities in Baghdad. Kurdish leaders see the budget amendments as contradicting an agreement on oil exports concluded in April.

For years, the KRG earned billions of dollars by exporting 475,000 barrels of oil a day to Turkey without the Iraqi federal government's approval.

The northern region, which has enjoyed wide autonomy from Baghdad since the 1990s, has in the past ignored rulings by the federal supreme court, including a February 2022 ruling that deemed its oil and gas law unconstitutional.

Parliament was expected to vote on the budget late last month.

Updated: June 10, 2023, 7:36 AM