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The Council of Ministers Supports Equality for Kurdistan Region's Public Sector Employees

On Wednesday, October 11, 2023, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani presided over a session of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Council of Ministers, with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani also in attendance.

The Prime Minister, on behalf of the Council, extended congratulations to the leadership of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) for their successful Fifth Congress. He expressed hopes that the congress would foster collaboration and unity among all groups in the Kurdistan Region, with a particular focus on safeguarding the region's rights and entitlements in Baghdad. This includes ensuring that public sector employees in the Kurdistan Region receive salaries on par with their counterparts in the rest of Iraq.

The meeting began with Abdul Hakim Khasraw, Director of the Department of Coordination and Follow-Up, providing an update on the ongoing audit of public sector employee salaries. This audit is a collaborative effort between the Iraq Federal Supreme Board of Audit and its counterpart in the Kurdistan Region, following a suggestion by KRG Prime Minister during a recent visit to Baghdad.

The coordination and cooperation of KRG institutions with the joint audit team have been extensive, ensuring the KRG's compliance with its responsibilities towards the federal government. It was stressed that it now is the federal government's obligation to disburse salaries to KRG public sector employees through official KRG channels, that salaries should not be entangled in political disputes, and that employees in the Kurdistan Region should receive salaries equal to those in the rest of Iraq without discrimination.

Prime Minister Barzani emphasised that the KRG has provided comprehensive and transparent data on its salaried employees, meticulously recorded in an advanced biometric electronic system. The KRG is committed to cooperating with the federal government as a constitutional and legal obligation. However, it is equally incumbent upon the federal government to fulfil its constitutional obligations by timely disbursing salaries to KRG's public sector employees. The federal budget has already allocated necessary funds for these salaries, eliminating any justification for delays.

The second part of the meeting focused on strategies and procedures for resuming oil exports from the Kurdistan Region via the Turkish Ceyhan port. Kamal Mohammed Salih, the Acting Minister of Natural Resources, provided insights into this issue, highlighting that the Kurdistan Region has met its obligations to supply the Federal Ministry of Oil with the required daily oil quantity for domestic consumption, covering production and transportation costs.

Simultaneously, the Kurdistan Region emphasised the importance of the agreement between the Federal Ministry of Oil, KRG's Ministry of Natural Resources, and oil-producing companies in the region regarding costs. This agreement is crucial for the successful reinstatement of oil exports via the Ceyhan port, which have been suspended since March 25, 2023, resulting in significant financial losses for both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

Lastly, Aydin Maruf, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs, presented a comprehensive report on the current state of minorities in the Kurdistan Region. The report included various proposals and recommendations aimed at advancing and fortifying conditions for peaceful coexistence among religious and ethnic communities, ensuring the protection of their legitimate rights.

The Prime Minister stressed that peaceful coexistence is one of the Kurdistan Region's defining characteristics, and that the KRG remains committed to taking all necessary measures to preserve and enhance this coexistence. The goal is to ensure that the Kurdistan Region continues to be a beacon of peace for diverse nations, religions, and cultures.