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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Iraq launches committee to revise draft budget complaints

Iraqi Prime Minister vows to address accusations of unfair budget allocation

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (C). Reuters 
Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (C). Reuters 

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has launched a committee to review a proposed budget bill, following objections by lawmakers that it will not provide the adequate funds for the country's reconstruction.

Government officials have raised concerns, claiming the proposal does no allocate sufficient funding for public services or the restoration of areas liberated from ISIS.

“The committee is comprised of experts and representatives from all of Iraq’s provinces,” Mr Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday night.

The committee's findings are expected to be presented to parliament on Sunday and Monday.

“The government is trying to find the best solution to resolve outstanding issues and do what is best for the Iraqi people,” the premier said.

Lawmakers had gathered on Monday to discuss the 2019 budget but failed to pass the draft.

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Minister of Finance Fuad Hussein is expected to head the committee and work alongside his acting deputy finance, the head of provincial planning and development council, economic experts and relevant parties to revise the legislation.

The premier approved the draft budget in October, which now awaits parliament approval. The budget of $111.9 billion envisions an increase in spending of $24bn and a deficit of $22.6bn for next year.

Kurdish politicians have previously rejected the draft because of a drop from 17 per cent in 2018 to 12.67 per cent.

However, the establishment of the committee aims to establish trust between the central government and the country's different factions, Kurdish parliamentarian Janghis Awakaly told The National.

“I believe this is a good opportunity for both federal government and Kurdistan Regional Government to try and resolve their outstanding budget issues,” Mr Awakaly said.

Previous budget allocations in Iraq have been skewed, with Sunni and Kurdish regions getting smaller shares than areas dominated by Iraq’s Shiite majority.