By Bahdin Sevo Sindi. Kurdistan May 8 – 2016, The New Mail. Our aim of this reform, Kurdistan to become an integral part of the global economy. Kurdistan Region Government( KRG) has unveiled spending cuts in a tentative step toward tackling an economic crisis that officials say poses a greater threat than Isis or Daash. Kurdistan Government (KRG) which is three months in arrears and deeply in debt, has been struggling since early 2014 when the Baghdad government slashed its funding, halting a boom fueled by Iraq’s growing oil revenues. Isis (Daash) overtook a third of Iraq, threatening foreign investors and driving more than one million refugees into Kurdistan.
KRG took its first step to tackling crises by reducing allowances of ministers and other officials by as much as 50% and eliminating perks such as paying the rent and electricity bills of senior civil servants. Dependent on oil revenue, Kurdistan has increased independent exports to more than 600,000 barrels per day in an effort to cover the gap, but the price of crude has fallen below $40 per barrel, on top of which the KRG sells at a discount.
How much important the process of reform in Kurdistan, and what type of reform will take place ? Well, Kurdistan significantly has changed at the beginning of 2003 especially after fall of Sadam’s regime Iraq was built on democracy system. Kurdistan has a complete belief on democratic and multiplicity of political parties with peaceful coexistence, it announced its readiness to support the private sector and market economy.
To achieve this vision, His Excellency Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani makes his best effort Kurdistan to occupy a prominent economic place in the Middle East. Like any part of Iraq, Kurdistan was the remnants of Saddam’s socialist system the state own everything. Kurdistan is trying to create a private sector and middle class over time, we are trying to change the public sector to the private sector. To achieve this there must be a change in the system of government administration and economy, be able to do this we get a support from some most experienced institute in the world such as World Bank and Rand institute we have a joint cooperation in the development of financial, administrative and economic system, in respect to this some change need to be short term, medium term, and long term. Also, some changes need to be changed by law to achieve this it must be a legal project and submit to parliament. We are now in the early stages of reform and tries as much as possible to be modern reform process according to international economic standards, Kurdistan to become an integral part of the global economy.
On the political level, how do you evaluate the support of political parties? No doubt that the change program needs the support of political parties, as you know there are some of the main parties in the government and parliament. Especially that the strategy of PDK and PUK , there must be changes in both economic and managerial positions and there will be complete transparency for export of oil and etc. President Massoud Barzani’s program is to support the reform process and question marks on some people and administrative bodies. Should the political parties all support reform and must be a transparency in all government departments and must eliminate corruption and non-legal ways in Kurdistan. As I mentioned earlier, there is a coalition government we will continue this program and should every party to support because they have announced in their electoral allegations to eliminate corruption and to find the best services to citizens.
Reform in many countries had a successful experience, and accepted sportingly by Politian’s, how it gets accepted in Kurdistan? According to public opinion, unfortunately, reform and eliminating corruption consider the concept of a sinner, and reform doesn’t mean to send people to court or resign them, but if someone had a non-legal action will be prosecuted. We need to take an advantage of other nation’s reform experience. There could be some laws that bother citizens like cut allowances or privileges, but in the long term is in the public interest.
The corruption it is an intractable crisis not only in Kurdistan but across the Middle East, what are the steps taken in order to eliminate this problem? Yes, unfortunately, that the problem of corruption is not widespread in Kurdistan only, but in many countries. Not necessarily that corruption is financially, but not following administrative laws is considered a type of corruption, now people points to corrupt officials or third parties who have non-legal work this is the kind of progress in Kurdistan. Unfortunately, there are some people who take advantage of the political positions of their personal interests or misuse of these positions. This issue publicly in Kurdistan people, government , political parties, and media everyone is talking about it, and trying to find the necessary solutions , this is mean it’s a half solution while in some countries it’s forbidden.
Announcement reform countries are trying to shut down international borders to prevent the escape of accused, does Kurdistan had taken this action? The government cannot prevent people to travel, but if someone prosecuted the court could prevent him from traveling and the government has to implement the court’s decision.
If the person accused of corruption residing abroad how would you bring him back? As I mentioned earlier, if a person accused of corruption it will be dealt with it internationally, and this is done according to the agreement between Iraq and these countries if these countries agree to send someone back according to the agreement it will be done without any hesitation.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond pointed his country’s readiness to support economic reform in Kurdistan, does Kurdistan has a support from many European countries? Yes, a month ago in Kurdistan, there was a meeting of a large number of European experts who attended, such as G7 Ambassadors, World Bank, and the European Union. In this meeting, we discussed the reform they announced they are ready to support us, in all field technical, expertise, management and political supports, and the United Kingdom is one of them.
As we can hear all Kurdistan media are talking about economic reform for most, so far I have not heard of the Kurdish media calls for social reform, such as a cleaner environment and domestic violence? Social reform means a change of culture, this change is not as easy as you know Kurdistan passed through several stages of ruin and destruction it’s not an easy job to change this culture in short time, but Kurdistan regional government is trying to raise the level of education by sending students to European countries to get a graduate degree and to mix with different cultures, to benefit from these cultures and apply to the Kurdish community to get better social reform.
And what about the economy of Kurdistan? What are the steps taken to resolve the economic crisis? Unfortunately so far, Kurdistan’s economy is linked with economy of the federal government we receive about 95% of budget , fall of Oil price was one of the main reason, in addition, this war with Isis, and migrant of more than 1.800000 people from Iraq and Syria to Kurdistan, all of these factors were negative on the economy of Kurdistan. Unfortunately, Baghdad did not protect is migrants nor support them either, those people fled from Baghdad they supposed to be the main responsible. The cost of camp for displaced people in Kurdistan is up to $1.500000 provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government in health service security and electricity etc.
Do you have future projects to eliminate or minimize the problem of unemployment? We do believe on a private sector, through the privatization of large companies this sector step by step will raise money and will provide more job opportunities for citizens.
Cut employees’ salaries or pay half of will to get living worse, can’t Kurdistan pay a full employee’s salary? Baghdad government cut the salaries of staff in Kurdistan by political decision. In 2014-2015 KRG tried its best to pay their employee to 19-20 salaries and the rest of it every 2-3 months or when an income is available, and what was left is to pay later on as loan on KRG.
Kurdish youth migrants to Europe very day, why KRG can’t stop them? Unfortunately yes, as we know Iraq generally was like a prison a long time ago and no one was able to travel or visit a different country. But at the moment Kurdistan gave everybody right to travel to any country but legally, KRG is not supporting illegal migration to Europe or any country.
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