Iraq’s divided political factions start voting on 2023 budget in Parliament

Amid continuous disagreements among political parties, the Parliament voted on only seven of 67 articles

Iraq's Council of Representatives building in Baghdad's fortified 'Green Zone'.  AFP
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The Iraqi Parliament on late Thursday started voting on the most-anticipated budget for this year amid deep disagreements, mainly over the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region's share and its financial commitments.

The budget, at 198.91 trillion Iraqi dinars ($153 billion), is the largest proposed amount in Iraqi history. It runs with a deficit of 64.36 trillion dinars.

Since March, when the Cabinet approved a draft budget law and sent to the legislative body for final endorsement, it has been subject to intense negotiations and discussions among political factions.

Some Shiite politicians and Kurdish parties have been pushing for amendments to the draft budget to strengthen Baghdad's control of the Kurdistan region’s oil industry and revenue that are in the hands of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

The KDP has traditionally had the most control over the Kurdish region's energy sector. It has strongly objected to changes to the draft, delaying the approval.

Among these amendments that are still rejected by KDP are cutting off the region's share from the budget, which is 12.6 per cent, if it failed to submit produced oil to Baghdad, and forcing the region to pay back 10 per cent of employees' salaries withheld in previous years.

To allow political parties to reach agreement on the contentious points, the Parliament only approved seven articles of 67, according to a statement. It will continue voting on the rest on Friday.

The budget calculations are based on an assumed oil price of $70 a barrel, with an average daily crude oil output of 3.5 million barrels, including 400,000 from the Kurdistan region.

The operational expenditure stands at 133.22 trillion dinars while investment expenditure will be 49.35 trillion dinars.

The government of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani is planning to repeat it in 2024 and 2025.

Iraq’s fiscal year usually starts on January 1.

Updated: June 08, 2023, 11:10 PM