Live: Budget pill passes after four days of chaos

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Parliament has debated all articles of the budget bill

Finally, after four nights of chaos, it appears to be over.

All articles have been either passed or rejected and some form of budget has been passed.
According to INA, MPs are voting amendments to Article 2.

That article was closed days ago. Now it’s reportedly open again. And we think that’s our cue to put the blog on pause for now. 

The bell is ringing again for MPs to enter the chamber for voting

Or it's a fire alarm. Who knows anymore.
Just in: Saad al-Tobi, a member of the finance committee, has stated that specific clauses of Article 15 have been approved.

The parliament is still voting on other parts of Article 15.
A Kurdistan Islamic Union MP says he's "never seen a budget vote go into a third day and potentially a fourth day."
Emphasis ours.

They may yet call it quits for tonight at the last stretch.
The budget will still pass, sans the provisions outlined in articles that were voted down. So in the case of Article 42, there will be no new taxes on energy products. 

It's unclear how the new hole in the budget will be accounted for, as the original costings surely included the presumed revenues from Article 42. It may be via borrowing or spending cuts elsewhere.
Comment by Roger
They must conclude the voting tonight in my opinion. But what happens now with Article 42 which was voted down? If this is the only Article that is not passed? Will the budget still pass without 42?
Yep. Those early reports were premature.

16 also voted on

Some early reports that the budget bill is approved. But given the following exchange that happened on Rudaw just a few minutes ago...

Rudaw correspondent: How many articles are there in total
MP: Wallah no one knows

...we'll wait for further confirmation before calling this one.

Article 42 voted down

Article 42, which was designed to introduce new taxes on fuels and energy products, has been voted down.

This decision represents another setback to efforts aimed at diversifying the economy away from reliance on fossil fuels and towards establishing a more coherent and comprehensive tax regime.

Ex-president Masoud Barzani: Kurdistan region is not only a red line, but a line of death

The KDP's president and former President of the Kurdistan Region has released a statement, denouncing what he called "an irresponsible and unconstitutional effort in the Iraqi Parliament, aimed at exacerbating problems and infringing upon the rightful rights of the Kurdish people."

As the approval of the Iraqi budget bill approached its final hours, Masoud Barzani claimed that "some political parties, with an attitude of ignorance and irresponsibility, sought to amend the bill's clauses in an attempt to undermine the very existence of the Kurdistan region. Their irresponsible conduct, however, failed to achieve its objectives and ultimately disintegrated."

Barzani added that the proceedings in the Iraqi Parliament "revealed the true colors of chauvinists, populists, and those who fail to honor their promises or respect constitutional principles." With the approval of the Iraqi budget, Barzani voiced his hope that it would be implemented with "genuine intentions."

The statement ends with a forceful message, asserting that "the Kurdistan Region belongs to the Kurdish people, borne from their sacrifices and struggles." Barzani underscored that "any efforts to distort or eradicate the Kurdistan region would be met with strong resistance."

Barzani announced that "the Kurdistan region is not just a red line but a line of death," underlining the unwavering commitment to preserving the region and asserting (and oft-used patriotic phrase), "Kurdistan or death."

His son, KRG PM Masrour Barzani, previously tweeted, "The brave stances of patriots on one hand, and the unprincipled acts of traitors on the other, will go down in history. Everyone can rest assured that the Kurdistan Region will become stronger, and we will not yield on our constitutional rights."

The statements from Masoud and Masrour Barzani offer a dual perspective on yesterday's events: on one hand, they condemn the "traitors," while on the other, they minimize the significance of what transpired.

Yet, the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, who also serves as the Vice President of the KDP, has not issued any comments regarding the previous day's events in the Iraqi Parliament or the disputes between the KDP and PUK. It is anticipated that Nechirvan will adopt a softer tone.
Comment by Roger
I hope you stay till the bitter end and give us the big news that the budget has been passed!!!

🎶Wake me up when it's all over🎶

Media production guy on the right is as tired as we all are.
credit: Rudaw TV
Comment by Leon
Many are curious as to how Iraq can execute this budget with their existing exchange rate given the massive international letters of intent and internal investments, and the liquidity issue with the dinar! I guess we'll find out.
Yousif al-Kilabi made another appearance tonight, this time joined by two Kurdish MPs, Bryar Rashid (PUK) and Soran Omar (Komal).

He offered a clarification regarding his video from yesterday, stating that he had no intention, nor would he ever desire, to humiliate the Kurdish people, the KDP, the PUK, or anyone else.

He also conveyed his apologies if his remarks were perceived as disrespectful.

Kilabi explained that he was simply expressing his joy over the Champions' League results, attempting to create a playful link between the events in Parliament and the successes of Manchester City.

Previously, Kurdish local media had interpreted Kilabi's video as an act of humiliation directed towards the PUK and KDP. This was due to his jest, "We have scored the 13th and 14th goals against PUK United and KDP United."
From the original draft of the budget law articles, you're right, Leon. It's our understanding that only articles 15, 16, 17, 42, and 43 remain to be put to a floor vote.

However, reports indicate that parliament is currently debating new additions to the bill.

After Article 64 was voted down, its content is either removed from the final bill or replaced by newly proposed articles.
Comment by Leon
They also still need to do 15, or no?
PUK Media reports that among the new articles voted on tonight is a provision requiring "the federal government and the Kurdistan Region" to compensate Kurdistani civil servants and public sector workers for the salary cuts they endured during the 'salary saving scheme'.

New articles? In this economy?

As if we weren't already sleep deprived enough.
Multiple sources are reporting that new articles are currently being added to the bill.

INA has already confirmed that parliament has voted to include a new article in the legislation. At this point, the specifics of these additions remain unclear. What is clear is that everyone's literally making it up as they go along.
66, 67, and 68 also make it through to the other side.
Earlier today local media reported article 64 and 65 were also voted on and we reproduced it. Turns out that was premature.
65 just passed but 64 appears to have been voted down.

Parliament is in session and voting on the rest of budget bill articles continues.

The bell rings!

The 30 minute recess finally looks to be over after two hours, as local media is report the bell is ringing again for MPs to enter the chamber
Voice of America Kurdish also reports that the KDP plans to present a case to the Federal Supreme Court.
The party questions the constitutionality of the clause that permits the provinces of the Kurdistan Region to engage in direct dealings with Baghdad.

Water protest in Erbil

Protests continue in Erbil over the ongoing lack of drinking water. In an interview with Rudaw, a man revealed that due to the constant water shortage, his wife has given him an ultimatum: either sell the house or face divorce. 

Water infrastructure in the region is considerably underdeveloped, with most households having access to the national grid's water only a few hours a week. This necessitates the installation of water tanks in many homes. 

However, the intermittent and unreliable nature of water availability often compels households to buy water from tankers at exorbitant prices.


After consecutively passing articles 44 to 63 in a rapid session, parliament has now entered a half-hour recess. Or, officially, a 'deliberation'.

Only seven articles remain to be voted on in the budget bill: articles 15, 16, 17, 42, 43, 66, and 67. 

We're in the endgame now.
We may need a full set of infinity stones to break the logjam in Baghdad
We may need a full set of infinity stones to break the logjam in Baghdad   credit: Thanos
Outspoken MP Yousif al-Kilabi appeared in a video following last night's Parliament session, cracking jokes at the expense of the KDP and PUK, stating, "We have scored the 13th and 14th goals against PUK United and KDP United."

It's a dual reference to both the Champions' League being played at the same time and the contentious passage of Articles 13 and 14 that were approved amid much drama last night.
In a potentially not-so-good development, local media reports indicate that voting on both Articles 42 and 43 has been postponed. 

Articles 44, 45, 46, 47, and 48 have all swiftly passed, as per reports from the INA. 

Aside from a few key provisions, the majority of the remaining articles are routine in nature, and we therefore anticipate them to be voted upon in rapid succession.

Breaking: Bell rings; parliament session to continue on federal Budget bill


52 members of a cult group issued prison sentences

The Media Center of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) announced today that the Karkh Court has issued prison sentences to 52 members of a group referring to themselves as "People of the Cause." 51 members of the group were sentenced to a year in jail under Paragraph 372.5 of Iraq's Penal Code, which stipulates up to three years of imprisonment for anyone who "publicly insults a symbol or a person who constitutes an object of sanctification, worship, or reverence to a religious minority."

The group has gained some notoriety recently, as clips of them declaring the popular Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr as the "Mahdi" circulated on social media. Fearing that the group offends the public's religious sensibilities, and in a bid to showcase religious piety to his base, Sadr has gone to great lengths to distance himself from the group, denouncing them repeatedly.

The full text of Paragraph 372.5 of Iraq's Penal Code

The following persons are punishable by a period of detention not exceeding 3 years or by a fine not exceeding ?00* dinars:

  1. Any person who attacks the creed of a religious minority or pours scorn on its religious practices.
  2. Any person who willfully disrupts a religious ceremony, festival or meeting of a religious minority or who willfully prevents or obstructs the performance of such ritual.
  3. Any person who wrecks, destroys, defaces or desecrates a building set aside for the ceremonies of a religious minority or symbol or anything that is sacred to it.
  4. Any person who prints or publishes a book sacred to a religious minority and deliberately misspells the texts so that the meaning of the text is altered or who makes light of its tenets or teachings.
  5. Any person who publicly insults a symbol or a person who constitutes an object of sanctification, worship or reverence to a religious minority.
  6. Any person who publicly imitates a religious ceremony or celebration with intent to deceive.

*The question mark in place of the specified currency is due to the age of the Iraqi Penal Code. This document dates back to a time prior to the 2003 invasion and the establishment of a new government in Baghdad. Given the substantial changes that have taken place in Iraq's economy and currency since then, the text of the Penal Code does not specify an updated form of currency or a specific amount. 

KRG PM Masrour Barzani responds

Masrour Barzani tweeted, "The courageous attitudes of patriots on one hand, and the unscrupulousness of traitors on the other, will be recorded in history. Everyone can rest assured that the Kurdistan Region will become stronger, and we won't back down on our constitutional rights."

His statement exemplifies the two-pronged approach the KDP is taking to yesterday's events: denouncing the "traitors" on one hand and downplaying the significance of what happened on the other.

PUK politburo follows KDP's in issuing statement

The PUK politburo has issued a statement this morning, continuing its praise for the inclusion of Clause 8 of Article 14 in the Iraqi budget bill. The statement applauds the acceptance of the PUK's proposals and the vote that favored prioritizing salaries and the livelihoods of the governorates in the Kurdistan Region.

The PUK politburo commended their MPs, describing them as "brave," and expressed optimism that cities like Sulaymaniyah and others in the Kurdish region "will no longer suffer from injustice, and the lives of the people will no longer be manipulated in unjust conflicts."

Here is the full statement

To our esteemed representatives in the PUK faction, the true representatives of the Kurdish people,

We extend our warmest congratulations on the acceptance of the PUK proposals in the Iraqi budget law for 2023, as well as the vote that prioritized salaries and the livelihood of the governorates in the Kurdistan Region. Your brave coordination and persistence during the Council of Representatives' deliberations have instilled hope in the people of Sulaymaniyah, Halabja, Garmian, and Raparin. It is also in the best interest of all of Kurdistan that Sulaymaniyah and other Kurdish cities are no longer subjected to injustice and the lives of the people are no longer used as pawns in unjust conflicts.

PUK leader congratulates his MPs after last night's votes

PUK leader Bafel Talabani has sent a letter of commendation to PUK MPs in the Iraqi Parliament. 

This action came in the aftermath of the vote on Clause 8 of Article 14, with PUK MPs rejoicing over their success in lobbying for the clause.

Consequently, Bafel Talabani, the President of the PUK, expressed his gratitude through the team lead of the MPs, recognizing their efforts concerning the Iraqi Budget in recent days.

Late last night, as tensions between the PUK and KDP escalated over the share allocated to the KRG and the granting of direct rights to the region's provinces to receive their share, the Iraqi Parliament approved Article 14 of the budget. This approval came after the endorsement of the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Casualties reported in Sulaymaniyah crane collapse

A tower crane collapse in Sulaymaniyah has led to casualties, with local media reporting three deaths and three injuries among the construction team working on the project.

Workplace safety regulations in Kurdistan are inadequately enforced, posing a particularly significant risk for construction workers. This regularly results in injuries and fatalities, underscoring the urgent need for improved safety measures in the construction sector.

KDP politburo issues statement on yesterday's events

Contrary to the initial reactions of KDP MPs, which were decidedly apocalyptic and accusatory, the KDP Politburo has released a rather measured statement on the passing of the draft budget law articles concerning Kurdistan.

The statement notes, "Although not all our expectations have been met" because "the draft budget law drawn up by the Federal Council of Ministers shouldn't have been changed," the KDP, "in the interest of empowering the government to spend on salaries and investments again" and to avoid "prolonging disputes," decided to accept the budget law.

The KDP's rhetoric concerning the last-minute changes to Article 14 has notably shifted since yesterday. MPs and high-ranking KDP members are increasingly claiming they've "foiled" plans to "weaken the KRG." They assert that the newly added clause doesn't provide the PUK with the ability to directly deal with Baghdad regarding finances.

Full statement:

Feeling responsible for the lives and livelihoods of Kurdish citizens, our party, the KDP, made substantial efforts to ensure that the articles and provisions of the 2023 budget law align with the constitutional entitlements of Kurdistan, the State Administration Coalition agreement to form the cabinet, the KRG's agreement with the federal government, and provide the KRG with its financial entitlements.

On the other hand, the KDP earnestly tried to thwart plans aimed at interfering with the sovereignty of the region and diminishing its stature and powers, which are enshrined in the constitution.

While not all our expectations have been met because the draft budget law drawn up by the Federal Council of Ministers shouldn't have been changed, we, nevertheless, in order to empower the government to spend on salaries and investments again and to avoid prolonging disputes, have decided to accept the budget law.

We extend our gratitude to the members of the KDP caucus in the Iraqi House of Representatives and the KDP ministerial team in the federal government, who have fulfilled their roles with the utmost loyalty and dutifulness. We wish them success.
MPs from various Kurdish parties have communicated to local media their intent to incorporate a clause into the Iraqi budget.
This proposed provision aims to guarantee the reimbursement of salary deductions for KRG employees.
A member of Iraq's Parliament Finance Committee anticipates the Iraqi budget will pass today. Saad Awad Al-Tobi MP told Al-Sumaria News that the Parliament is close to completing the voting process on the budget, and he expects the remaining articles to be addressed in today's session.

He cited ongoing disagreements between the central Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government over their respective shares, as detailed in articles 12, 13, and 14, as the main reason for the delay.

Al-Tobi views the progress made on these contentious articles as a major milestone for the Parliament and a significant step towards formalizing legal relations between Baghdad and Erbil.
The moment the new clause that grants Kurdistan Region provinces the power to deal directly with Baghdad passed in parliament yesterday was highly charged.

KDP MPs can be seen at the front, waving in an attempt to disrupt the vote. Conversely, PUK MPs immediately started clapping once Speaker Halbousi announced the passage of the clause.

Local reports: Federal government sends 400b IQD to KRG

Local Kurdish media are reporting that the Iraqi Council of Ministers has agreed to send an additional 400 billion IQD (~$300m) to the KRG during its regular session today.

Earlier this afternoon, Prime Minister Al-Sudani also chaired an emergency session of the Council of Ministers, aimed at evaluating the performance of his cabinet over the previous period. We'll provide more details on this matter soon.
According to the INA, First Deputy Speaker Mandalawi has postponed the parliamentary session until a quorum is achieved.

Former PUK MP: The KDP and PUK sacrificed people's rights

Reactions to the articles concerning the Kurdish share in the Iraqi budget continue to emerge, with a former PUK MP alleging, "The PUK and KDP have sacrificed the rights and entitlements of the people for their own interests."

Rezan Shekh Dler an advisor to the PUK's politburo and former MP in Baghdad, made a post on her official page, stating that the PUK and KDP are perpetuating their internal conflicts at the expense of the Kurdish population, repeating a dark chapter of history.

She also voiced her discontent with both the PUK and KDP as they accuse each other of betrayal and treason, asserting, "No one would believe them."

Late last night, amid escalating tensions between the PUK and KDP regarding the share allocated to the KRG and the conferral of direct rights to the region's provinces to receive their share, the Iraqi Parliament approved Article 14 of the budget. This followed the endorsement from the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Afternoon briefing 

Good afternoon, folks. Our first afternoon briefing today after the late-night hijinks in parliament last night.

Here's the latest in the budget law saga:

  • After the passing of the surprise 14.8 clause—apparently allowing KRI governorates the ability to deal directly with Baghdad in instances where they face 'discriminatory treatment' from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)—yesterday, the PUK extended "congratulations" to the public of Sulaymaniyah and Halabja, claiming they'll no longer have to endure "injustices."
  • Meanwhile, the KDP is disputing the wording of clause 14.8 and questioning its applicability. Several high-ranking KDP cadres have also accused the PUK of treason for their actions yesterday.
  • The next Parliamentary session to vote on the remaining clauses of the draft budget law was initially slated for 1 PM Baghdad time, but it has reportedly already been postponed to 5 PM. It is likely that the Parliament will successfully vote on the remaining clauses today. But we've heard that song before.