KRG PM Masrour Barzani says his government is not responsible for failure to pay salaries in Sulaymaniyah

11-05-2022 09:11
Prime Minister Masrour Barzani speaks during his press conference in the capital Erbil, May 11, 2022. Photo: KRG


Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Wednesday (May 11) that his government is not responsible for problems paying salaries to public servants in Sulaimaniyah because of an ongoing dispute over internal revenue sharing between the ruling parties.

"Internal revenues were greater in Sulaymaniyah during the time of the coronavirus pandemic," the Barzani claimed during a press conference. "I ask the officials of the Sulaimaniyah administration to come and explain to me the reason for the decline in income."

Barzani is a senior leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which is the largest party in the KRG cabinet and the Kurdistan Parliament and controls Erbil and Duhok governorates. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is politically dominant in Sulaymaniyah and holds a number of other ministries in the cabinet.

Although sitting in government together, tensions between the two parties have been escalating for several months, with the dispute over internal sources of income, including taxes and customs duties, a particularly significant point of contention.

During his press conference, Barzani took direct aim at the PUK, accusing it of failing to implement the policies of his government, and sought to distance himself from growing frustration over the salary issue.

"Administrative officials cannot fall under the control of a single party. They do not implement the government's program. The government cannot be responsible when it does not have power. The government is responsible when it has the power to implement its program," Barzani argued.

The KRG has begun distributing salaries for April, but pensioners and employees of some ministries in Sulaimaniyah have not even received their salaries for March.

Authorities in Sulaymaniyah blame the KRG for not transferring enough money from internal revenues to make the payments and argue that the local government does not have enough cash pay salaries on its own.

Angry and caught in the middle of the partisan dispute, university professors and workers have organized protests over the past four days, with Wednesday’s demonstrations in Sulaymaniyah held outside the offices of the provincial council.

They had planned to hold additional demonstrations outside the offices of KRG Deputy Prime Minister and PUK senior leader Quad Talabani, but were prevented from doing so by the local security forces.

Protests were also held in Halabja and Ranya, with demonstrators gathering outside the public banks, which are tasked with distributing salaries and pensions.