A large sum of $210 million dollars has been deposited into the KRG’s (Kurdish regional government) Erbil branch of the Central Bank of Iraq, the deposit was made by the central Iraqi government and the KRG was not notified of the fund’s purpose. The Kurdish Prime Minister‘s Chief of Staff, Safeen Dizayee, said that the KRG did not know whether or not the money was for the salaries of Kurdish federal employees. The KRG employees have been eagerly waiting for the conclusion of Iraq’s payroll audit and the receipt of their salaries. In a statement by the Ministry of Finance it was made clear that the KRG has no direct authority over the branch in question and that the ministry had not actually received any funds. The ministry also stated that they would immediately inform the public should they receive any money from Iraq.
It has been speculated that the money is in fact for the payment of KRG employees, particularly those affiliated to federal hospitals and school. A source working within the Ministry of Finance confirmed that while they did receive the money, they were not given directions for its dispersion by the Iraqi government. Chief of Staff Dizayee made the statement that, “There has been no clarification from the federal government regarding the amount of the money that was transferred from the Federal Bank of Iraq to the branch of the Central Bank of Iraq in Erbil,” and added, “Is it for the salaries? Or a mere bank transfer between the banks to manage their operation.”
While the financial audit is an ongoing processes, the Iraqi government has promised to pay the KRG upon its completion. The audit is currently looking into the health and education branches who have the most employees next to the sectors governing the Kurdish armed forces. The KRG budget was cut drastically by the central Iraqi government in response to the KRG’s play for oil rights in Kirkuk as well as the war with the Islamic State in 2014. At times, months went by where KRG employees to include the Peshmerga were not paid their allotted salaries. Many protests have resulted from this and caused severe political strife within the autonomous Kurdish region. A culmination of these things created a financial crises in Kurdistan that is only just now being addressed by Iraq.
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