Senior World Bank expert calls Kurdistan financial crisis worse than Baghdad’s

Posted on March 18, 2016

Sibel Kulaksiz, Senior Economist at the World Bank at the 2016 Sulaimani forum, March 17, 2016. Photo: Burhan Mardani/NRT

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’,— The financial crisis facing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is worse than that of the central Iraqi government, a senior economist with the World Bank said Thursday.

Sibel Kulaksiz told the audience at the Sulaimani Forum that experts from the international financial institute and KRG are working on plans for reform and that the region needs much support to successfully solve its fiscal issues.

Fourteen World Bank advisors are helping KRG officials implement economic reforms, Kulaksiz said, as a number of crises continue to strain the region’s finances.

Among those challenges are the war against the Islamic State (IS), ongoing budget dispute with Baghdad, global slump in oil prices and presence of 1.8 million Syrian refugees and internally displaced Iraqis inside KRG-administered areas.

According to Kulaksiz, the region’s population has grown by 28 percent and more Iraqi Kurds are living below the poverty line. Financial growth in the region has also suffered, lowering by as much as 10 percent.

The solution, though, is reform and cost-cutting.

“It is necessary that both the Iraqi government and KRG reduce expenditures and reform the tax system,” she said.

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