Goodies like discounts on fines also promised

KRG announces long-delayed salaries to finally be paid

ERBIL — KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has announced the initiation of salary distribution for February, following a Council of Ministers meeting.

This announcement comes 55 days after the salary list for January 2024 was released, a period during which civil servant wages in the Kurdistan Region went unpaid.

In addition to addressing the immediate salary concerns, the Council of Ministers has decided on several economic relief measures, including land allocations and reductions in various fees and fines, to alleviate the economic burdens on citizens. The measures, detailed by Barzani in a video statement, underscore “the constitutional and ethical responsibility of the federal government in Baghdad to adhere to its commitments to the KRG.”

The relief efforts include directives for the Ministry of Municipality and Tourism to distribute land to public servants who have not yet benefited from government housing programs, a 20% reduction in traffic fines racked up by drivers, a 50% cut in import duties for meat, and a 20% decrease in tuition  fees at public universities and colleges for those who do not qualify for free state-funded tuition.

Additionally, there is an amnesty for penalties related to delayed tax payments by businesses, along with reductions in municipal water fees and rents for government housing and other municipal fees.

This announcement follows Barzani’s hint at “good news” during an iftar gathering at a mosque in Erbil on Wednesday, where he mentioned forthcoming decisions aimed at the welfare of the entire population, including those previously unsupportive of the government. “We are making a decision in the interest of all the people of Kurdistan, and we know that everyone will be a part of this decision. Even those who were not with us during hard times,” Barzani had stated, setting the stage for Thursday’s announcement.

Kurdistan Region public sector works have been waiting nearly two months for February salary payments and are still owed many months of unpaid salary packets. The region and federal government are at loggerheads over Kurdistan Region budget shares, with each blaming the other for chronic delays to salary payments. Last month, the Federal Court ruled that the Kurdistan Region’s payroll must be transferred to Iraq and be paid directly, bypassing the KRG.

Barzani also emphasized that the region’s issues extend beyond economic concerns, highlighting the importance of identity and land rights. “Some think giving us a meager salary is enough, but our issues extend beyond salaries to our identity and our land. We will defend our constitutional rights to the very end,” he said.