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KRG Council of Ministers rejects discriminatory measures taken against the region

On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani chaired a session of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Council of Ministers, with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani in attendance. The meeting primarily focused on recent developments following the approval of the Iraqi budget and its implications for the Kurdistan Region.

Prime Minister Barzani emphasised that the Kurdistan Region has fulfilled all its constitutional obligations and responsibilities as per the agreements with the Iraqi government. However, certain changes made to the budget agreement regarding financial rights and entitlements are unconstitutional and go beyond the scope of the agreements between Erbil and Baghdad.

The Council of Ministers urges the Iraqi government to carefully reconsider the amended articles in the budget and ensure they align with the government's program. The federal government should establish a stable mechanism to fulfil the Kurdistan Region's financial entitlements. The KRG strongly rejects any discriminatory measures against the region, as the KRG has fulfilled all its constitutional obligations, and there is no justification for discrimination, especially under the pretext of oil, which has been used in the past to deny the region its rightful financial entitlements. It is now the responsibility of the federal government to fairly implement the budget law and fulfil its financial obligations towards the Kurdistan Region, particularly regarding the salaries and pensions of both civilians and Peshmerga, based on the agreed-upon records and figures.

During the meeting, Vala Fareed, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, provided an explanation of draft bills and regulations that have yet to be voted on by the Iraqi Council of Ministers. In light of recent developments, the KRG's Council of Ministers called on the relevant ministers to share their input or reservations regarding the proposed bills and regulations.

The next part of the meeting focussed on Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which pertains to the Disputed Territories. The council deliberated on reactivating the Article 140 committee responsible for its implementation, specifically focusing on the implementation of Decree No. 29 of 2012, which nullifies decisions made by the Ba'ath regime's Northern Affairs Committee regarding the confiscation of agricultural lands owned by Kurds and Turkoman in Kirkuk. The Council of Ministers expressed gratitude for the committee's reactivation and commended its recent letter urging Iraq's Ministry of Agriculture to halt the renewal of land leases in the disputed territories, which has caused great injustice to Kurds and Turkoman. The council reiterated the importance of fully implementing the provisions of Article 140 to put an end to ongoing injustices.

To monitor the implementation of Article 140 and engage with Kurdish factions in the Iraqi Council of Ministers and the Iraqi Parliament, the Council of Ministers established a cross-ministerial committee led by the Interior Minister. The committee's specific focus will be on agricultural land ownership issues concerning Kurdish and Turkoman farmers.

The final segment of the meeting addressed the issue of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) and the preventive measures implemented by the Ministries of Agriculture and Health. The Acting Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dara Rashid, and the Minister of Health, Saman Barzanji, briefed the council on the preventative measures undertaken by their ministries, particularly in relation to animal slaughter ahead of Eid al-Adha. The KRG has allocated necessary funds for both ministries to conduct an awareness campaign. The Council of Ministers commended both ministries for their efforts and urged the public to diligently adhere to the government's instructions to minimise the risk of VHF infection, especially during the holy period of Eid al-Adha.