Kurdish region needs $100M monthly to deal with budgetary deficit, deputy prime minister says
By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) needs budgetary aid to cover a monthly deficit of $100 million and would accept any conditions for the help, a senior KRG official said Wednesday.
“We have absolutely no problems with any conditions that would be placed on financial assistance given to us,” said KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, speaking at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy in Washington.
According to Talabani, the global oil price plunge aggravated KRG’s already existing economic problems that stem from Baghdad’s move to cut the regional government’s budget in response to the KRG’s exporting oil in pursuit of economic independence from Iraq since 2014.
“We need direct budgetary support,” Talabani said, noting that the crisis has made it one of the “most vulnerable entities in the coalition.”
He noted that the KRG had made its need for budget support clear to the U.S. government.
Talabani also noted that the economic crisis would have an effect on the fight against Daesh.
Joining Talabani at the panel was KRG Interior Minister Karim Sinjari, who said the government had not been able to pay the peshmerga forces in three months.
Sinjari said that the commitment and morale of the peshmerga had not degraded but called on the U.S. to help out the government maintain effectiveness of the Kurdish fighters against Daesh.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters from Baghdad via video conference, U.S.-led coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren also acknowledged that the economic crisis would have an impact on peshmerga’s performance in the Daesh war.
However, Warren said, the peshmerga “continues to fight and win” despite economic hardships.
The interior minister also said the peshmerga forces would support the operation to retake Mosul from Daesh but the Kurdish fighters would not enter the predominantly Arab city.
“We won’t enter the city to avoid an Arab-Kurdish conflict,” Sinjari said.
“We will operate around the city.”
The two Kurdish leaders came to Washington on Monday and are going to meet administration officials through the week.