Bondlady’s Corner

Iraqi News Highlights Monday Evening 5-8-23

Tlm724 Administrator Bondlady’s Corner

The Representative Of The Kurdistan Regional Government In Baghdad And Representatives Of The World Bank Hold A Joint Meeting

Posted On2023-05-08 By Sotaliraq   Today, Sunday (7/5/2023), the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Baghdad, headed by Mr. Fares Issa, and representatives of the World Bank, Iraq branch, held a joint meeting in the private office of the head of the representative office, in the presence of the Undersecretary of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Masoud Haider.

During the meeting, they discussed how to implement the project to protect and enhance human capital in Iraq, which was prepared by the World Bank, Iraq branch, in cooperation with a Dutch organization.

The project includes providing financial grants as cash assistance to poor families in Dohuk Governorate and the Zakho Autonomous Administration.

It is noteworthy that the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government is in constant contact with representatives of the World Bank and other international organizations in order to obtain approvals to support small economic projects and to provide grants to poor families in the governorates of the Kurdistan Region to improve their living conditions.   LINK

Government Advisor: We Fear That Oil Revenues Will Not Be Invested In Improving Services

Posted On2023-05-08 By Sotaliraq  Translated by: Hamed Ahmed   A government advisor said in an interview with (The National) news website, translated by (Al-Mada), that Iraq may miss an opportunity to improve services and improve its economy after a year of record oil revenues, warning of rampant corruption that may end any gains at a time when the government is discussing a draft budget law of size $152 billion.

The government advisor, Muhammad al-Darraji, said that “red lines have been drawn up by politicians working to block any attempts at reform.”

Al-Darraji added, in his interview with the news site, that “corruption in Iraq is not an act on an individual level, but rather an organized act by political parties seeking to finance themselves to strengthen their capabilities. That is why we need to be very precise and frank when we talk about these things.”

Iraq is trying to pass the draft budget law, which will witness a record volume of spending over a period of three years, with a record deficit rate as well, and a year has passed for the country without approving a budget due to political differences in the country before the formation of a government headed by Muhammad Shia al-Sudani last October.

One of the energy advisers, who asked not to be named, said, “The process of approving the budget may be a farce, as each party is fighting for higher and higher allocations for its ministries.”

Al-Sudani’s supporters are looking forward to reallocating investments in Iraq’s infrastructure to an average of $40 billion annually.

Last week, the spokesman for the Ministry of Electricity, Ahmed Musa, said that the budget would provide a quantitative leap for this sector due to the frequent power outages.

But analysts say increased allocations of public sector salaries may undermine investment in public services. The budget may witness additional allocations for nearly 700,000 new job grades, and this means the allocation of $68 billion for salaries only, at a rate of $5.6 billion per month, which goes to cover the salaries of public sector employees, the retirees, and social welfare allocations, and these allocations are much higher than what is spent on public services.

The draft budget law relied on a price of $70 per barrel as an average, but expectations are not fixed regarding oil price fluctuations in the global market.

Kirk Sowell, an economic advisor at the World Bank specializing in Iraqi affairs, said that this approved figure is unrealistic, pointing out that this requires that the benchmark Brent crude price remain at 85 to 90 dollars per barrel so that the budget can cover operating expenses from oil resources. He added, “Perhaps Iraq may pass the budget at a time when the price of Brent crude is at $80 a barrel, which will be sufficient to cover the allocations.

However, the expenditures are huge and there will be problems in covering the deficit. And if another collapse in oil prices occurs, then Iraq may return to the stage of financial deficit that it witnessed in the year 2020, when it faced difficulty in providing public sector salary entitlements.

Regarding the drop in oil prices, Al-Darraji says, “The operating budget will be very high, and therefore there will be no room for investment allocations and the implementation of projects that are important to meet the needs of citizens.”

Al-Darraji said, “The introduction of many other appointments to the public sector by the government is another aspect of corruption that is overlooked.”

He added, “Yes, al-Sudani has a vision and a desire to fight corruption through a new process to address this problem, but the question that needs an answer is what is related to the red lines set by the political parties, and will they allow al-Sudani to cross them. By red lines I mean political support for corrupt elements.”

Al-Daradji added, “Corruption is not limited to stealing money or taking commissions. Rather, corruption is when you put an incompetent person in a very important position so that he cannot carry out his duty and work properly, and this is a very big problem.”

In November, Al-Sudani formed a supreme commission to combat corruption, a step similar to steps taken by his predecessors, including former prime ministers. The developments in the work of this body have been slow over the years. Earlier this year, it was revealed that $2.5 billion was stolen from tax secretariat deposits supervised by the Ministry of Finance. Al-Sudani also decided to evaluate the performance of the special grade employees, as another attempt to eradicate corruption.   LINK

Al-Sudani Directs To Expedite The Implementation Of The Electronic Payment System

Posted On2023-05-08 By Sotaliraq   Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani directed ministries and agencies not associated with a ministry and all governorates to expedite the implementation of points of sale with the electronic payment system and to make unremitting efforts for this.

Haider Majeed, a spokesman for the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, said, in a statement followed by (Al-Mada), that “the Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’a Al-Sudani, directed ministries and agencies not associated with a ministry and all governorates to expedite the implementation of points of sale with the electronic payment system (POS) and make unremitting efforts for that”.

Majeed added, “The directive came during the cabinet meeting in its eighteenth regular session, held on 5/2/2023,” stressing that “the Department of Cabinet Affairs and Committees in the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers will follow up on the implementation of the directive with the relevant authorities.”

In addition, the bank’s deputy governor, Ammar Hamad Khalaf, stated in a press statement, “The cabinet’s decision to activate electronic payment in all joints aims to reduce the use of cash and increase dealing with funds electronically through the use of cards, which is an important complement to the salary localization project that began its implementation several years ago.” “.

Khalaf added, “The decision will enable the bank to implement a mechanism that enables employees to receive their salaries through the payment cards currently used, such as MasterCard, and to be filled into their bank balance without the need to receive cash.”

He pointed out, “The Central Bank will intensify its efforts to increase the use of payment cards in markets and shops, and the Cabinet’s decision will require government institutions and all spending units in the public and private sectors to find electronic payment devices in their dealings.”

And Khalaf went on to say that “payment via electronic devices will reduce cash circulation, and it is better in terms of saving money and safer than transferring it.”

For its part, Al-Rafidain Bank media stated in a statement that (Al-Mada) received a copy of it two days ago, that “in line with the government program and the directive of Prime Minister Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani during the esteemed cabinet session, that ministries and all departments work to expedite the implementation of points of sale with the electronic payment system.”

(POS) and in support of the decisions of the Central Bank of Iraq to move to electronic cash, starting from (June 1, 2023).

And he continued, “Al-Rafidain Bank decided, in cooperation with the General Company for Smart Cards, to grant (POS) devices to all state institutions and the private sector for free, provide technical and logistical support, supportive software, and train all technical personnel in exchange for (zero) commissions until the end of the year 2023, and the responsibility of the Bank of Mesopotamia.”

The Council of Ministers had decided earlier that the implementation of electronic sales would start in the next month.   LINK

Finance Minister Taif Sami and US Ambassador Elena Romanowski discussed the possibility of establishing long-term investment partnerships.

The ministry’s media office said in a statement, “Finance Minister Taif Sami Muhammad received the US ambassador to Baghdad, Elena Romanowski.”

He added, “During the meeting, they discussed various aspects of cooperation between Iraq and the United States, ways to support the growing indicators of the Iraqi economy, and government efforts in this framework, as well as an emphasis on cooperation in the field of banking reform adopted by the government, in addition to discussing the possibility of concluding investment partnerships.” long-term by creating stable investment environmental conditions in the Iraqi market.

International Monetary Indicates A Rise In Iraq’s Hard Currency Reserves

Monday 08 May 2023 09:19 | Economical Number of readings: 559  Baghdad / NINA / – The International Monetary Fund revealed, today, Monday, that Iraq’s hard currency reserves have increased, and it is likely that they will not reach 100 billion US dollars during the current year 2023.

And the fund expected, through the schedule for the current month of May, that Iraq’s reserves of hard currency during the current year 2023 will reach about 99.4 billion dollars, after it was 97 billion dollars in 2022,” noting that “it is also expected that” these reserves will decrease to 93.1 billion. dollars in 2024.

And she added, “Iraq’s reserves have increased significantly from what they recorded in 2020, which at that time amounted to 54.4 billion dollars, while the reserves in 2021 amounted to about 64.2 billion dollars, and in 2022 they amounted to 97 billion dollars.”

And the hard currency reserve, which is the state’s reserves of foreign currencies, and it is called the foreign exchange reserve, and the aim of the reserve is to protect the state and maneuver with it in times of economic recession or wars.

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