The Council of Ministers of Iraq approved 2021 budget with deficit of $43 billion in an extraordinary session that took place amid an objection of Iraqi parties and political forces.
According to a Prime Minister brief statement, “the vote on the draft budget was made during the extraordinary session, which was held chaired by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi”.
The draft budget value amounted to 150 trillion Iraqi dinars ($103 billion).
This budget approval come while Iraq is grappling with an economic and financial crisis due to low oil prices.
Government sources said that the budget deficit is expected to reach $43 billion, as it was based on the global oil price of $42 a barrel.
Attempt to reach consensus formula
The Council said it attempts to reach a consensus formula despite the ongoing political controversy.
The submitted draft budget is expected to face major objections in Parliament, especially after major Iraqi political forces announced their rejection clearly.
Nouri al-Maliki’s coalition refusal
State of Law Coalition, led by Nouri al-Maliki, said that it will prevent the draft budget from passing in Parliament.
“The government has turned to the simplest and easiest choices in reform process, which is raising the price of the dollar and deducting the salaries of employees in the budget for next year,” deputy for the coalition, Mansour Al-Baiji, in a statement.
“We will not pass the budget if it includes targeting employees and deducting their salaries in this arbitrary way.
“Most of the employees in Iraq have low salaries that do not exceed 500 thousand dinars per month. If any amount is deducted from it, employees will be face economic disaster.
“The government should review its decisions regarding salary deduction. Employees’ salaries are a red line, and Parliament will not accept to deduct one dinar from them on any grounds whatsoever.
“Employees shouldn’t be victims of irrational decisions. Those who issued them should have sought reform in other sectors where reform is needed for a better economic situation of the country.”
Al-Fateh Alliance’s position
For its part, the Al-Fateh Alliance, the political wing of the Popular Mobilization, announced rejecting the draft budget and confirmed that it is planning on collecting signatures for overturning it.
Deputy for the Badr parliamentary bloc (part of the Al-Fateh Alliance) Uday Shaalan Abu Al-Joun said: “We will work to collect signatures to overturn the draft budget if it includes reducing employee salaries or fixing the dollar exchange rate”.
“The government, the Ministry of Finance, and the Central Bank are ‘playing with the fire’ without realizing the seriousness of challenging the people.
“The government’s ‘illogical’ reforms will return with disastrous results, as they came to support the corrupt at the expense of the poor classes.
“The government, with this ominous budget, will deliver the coup de grâce to itself, and its fate will be the same as the fate of the government that preceded it.”