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The Council of Ministers calls for unity in demanding Kurdistan Region's constitutional rights

On Wednesday, August 2, 2023, the Kurdistan Region’s Council of Ministers convened its weekly meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Barzani commemorated the anniversary of the martyrs and victims of the Sinjar massacres and the Yazidi genocide perpetrated by the so called Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. He reaffirmed the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) unwavering commitment to supporting the rights of the Yazidis and applauded the international community's recognition of these heinous crimes as genocide. The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of implementing the Sinjar Agreement and restoring normalcy to the city to prevent any recurrence of such atrocities.

In the first part of the meeting, the Prime Minister provided updates on the progress of the federal budget law implementation. He stressed that the Kurdistan Region has fulfilled all its obligations, leaving no excuse for the federal government in Baghdad to delay the payment of the region's financial entitlements. The Council of Ministers urged all Kurdish political groups to unite in defending the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region as specified in the federal budget law.

In the second part of the meeting, the Council discussed the critical issues of electricity supply and rising gasoline prices in the region. The Minister of Electricity and the Natural Resources presented a comprehensive report outlining the efforts to address these issues. This included facilitating gasoline imports from abroad and encouraging local refineries to refine more crude oil to meet the public's gasoline needs. Additionally, the Ministry of Electricity's measures to increase electricity supply from the national grid and recent improvement projects were highlighted.

The Council of Ministers acknowledged and valued the efforts made by both ministries in tackling these challenges and urged them to intensify their endeavours to ensure a consistent supply of electricity and fuel to the public.

In the third part of the meeting, the Council focused on digitalisation projects related to electronic payments (E-Payment) and the ‘My Account’ initiative. A report on these projects was presented by Aziz Ahmed, the Deputy Head of the Prime Minister's Office.

The Prime Minister expressed gratitude to Mr. Ahmed and his team for their work on the digitalisation projects, and he also commended the Minister of Finance for supporting the ‘My Account’ project. Emphasising the importance of these initiatives, PM Barzani urged all ministries to support the digitalisation of governmental services, which would establish a robust financial infrastructure and invigorate the banking system.

The Prime Minister emphasised that strengthening the banking system would positively impact the region's economy and invigorate commercial activities. He explained that the initiatives are being undertaken in full compliance with international standards, considering the latest technological advancements for the provision of digital services, particularly electronic payment of salaries of the public sector.

To accelerate the banking system reform, which is set to be implemented by the end of 2025 with the aim of reducing dependence on cash transactions, the Prime Minister directed all ministries and government departments to cooperate with the ‘My Account’ project.

Finally, at the meeting's conclusion, the Council reiterated its support for the Kurdistan Region Presidency's efforts in setting a date for the parliamentary elections in the region, and called on all political parties to rally behind this step and strive to ensure the elections' success. The KRG expressed its readiness to provide all necessary support in preparation for the elections.