Funds are ready to pay KRG salaries: Iraqi Central Bank governor

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The governor of the Central Bank of Iraq Ali Mohsen al-Alaq told Rudaw that funds are ready to pay the salaries of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) employees as soon as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gives the word.

The governor spoke to Rudaw upon arrival in the Kurdistan Region where he is holding talks with the KRG finance ministry.

“Of course if there is a request to reimburse [money] to certain sides, we have to respond to these requests. So if the [central] government has the intention to pay salaries, something we hope, then we are ready and the funds are available if directions are given by the prime minister,” Alaq told Rudaw.

Around $210 million – 250 billion Iraqi dinars – has been deposited by the Iraqi government into the Erbil branch of the central bank, something the governor says is normal procedure because the central bank divides its reserves across its branches.

However, the governor said his visit is not directly related to the issue of unpaid salaries – rather he has come to Erbil to coordinate with the KRG’s Ministry of Finance and to organize the banking sector of the Kurdistan Region.

“The remaining problem between us and the Iraqi government, that has a financial dimension, is that they have issues or observations with taxes and customs, and the Kurdistan Region’s banks,” Rebaz Hamlan, the KRG’s Minister of Finance, told Rudaw.

Hamlan says he has previously asked the governor to visit Erbil to hold talks on these issues in the presence of specialists.

A technical delegation was scheduled to arrive in the Kurdistan Region on Sunday to compliment the current delegation.

Auditing teams and other delegations have visited the KRG in recent months since the breakdown in relations between Baghdad and Erbil.

The KRG and central government are yet to reach an agreement concerning international border crossings, mainly due to disagreements over which side has a claim to customs revenues.

The minister said his department has disclosed all necessary information and has cooperated fully to remove impediments for the salaries to be paid.

Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi said last week that the twin issues of unpaid salaries and the airport closures could be solved prior to the Newroz break on March 21.

“It is normal for delegations to go between Baghdad and Erbil. Before now, there were issues and the two sides did not talk. There was only intimidation and threats. There is at least dialogue currently,” Safin Dizayi, the KRG’s spokesperson, told journalists.

He said it is a positive sign that the two sides are now talking things over.

“The latest signs show that opinions are positive. There are no other options except reaching an agreement. Mr. Prime Minister has showcased the plan and vision for the future, and we observe progress and improvement in things,” Alaq told Rudaw.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Abadi held a phone conversation on Thursday.

“A number of topics were discussed. The talks that took place in Davos, Munich and in Baghdad before were discussed again, the topic of salaries and the topic of airports,” Dizayi told Rudaw.

He said he hopes the salaries will be paid and the airports reopened before Newroz to give relations between the two sides a fresh breath of life.

Article Credit:
Special Thanks to Charles Bright!!