Iraq parliament approves 2019 budget, one of largest ever

Iraq aims to export 3.9 million barrels of oil per day in 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Iraq parliament approves 2019 budget, one of largest ever

  • The budget will be largely funded by oil revenues
  • The 2019 budget is almost 45 percent higher than last year’s budget

BAGHDAD: Iraqi lawmakers on Thursday approved the government’s 2019 budget, which at $111.8 billion is one of the oil-rich country’s largest ever spending bills.
It represents a nearly 45 percent increase from last year and awards even more money for public salaries, including those of the northern Kurdish region.
Nearly 90 percent of the budget comes from oil revenues.
Iraq expects to export 3.9 million barrels per day in 2019, including 250,000 bpd from the Kurdish region, at an average of $56 per barrel.
The current price of crude sits at $63 per barrel.
The deficit is expected to more than double to $23.1 billion, while investments increase to $27.8 billion.
The draft bill was originally submitted to parliament in October but has been fiercely debated since then.
MPs from provinces ravaged by the fight against the Daesh group criticized it for not allocating enough reconstruction funds to their regions.
Another debate raged over the share that would be allotted to the administratively autonomous Kurdish region.
MPs had originally scheduled a session for 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday but delayed it to 7:00 p.m. and voted article by article, finishing just after midnight.
The government proposed $52 billion in salaries, pensions, and social security for state workers — a 15-percent jump from 2018 and more than half the total budget.
Notably, parliament passed a budget measure to fund salaries for the Kurdistan region’s state workers and armed forces, the peshmerga.
The budget also stipulates the Kurdish Regional Government must export 250,000 bpd of crude through state-owned companies and deposit the revenues in federal coffers.
If it didn’t, MP Sarkawt Shamsaddin told AFP, Baghdad would continue to pay salaries but would not disburse other funds to the Kurdish region.
“The good thing is public servants’ salaries and peshmerga are not subject to political disputes,” said Shamsaddin, representing the northeastern Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah.
Relations between Baghdad and Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, soured in 2017 after Kurdish authorities held an independence referendum.
Last year’s budget was approved by parliament in March.
Parliament had also scheduled a vote on two of the five remaining empty cabinet posts in Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi’s government but adjourned without holding it.


Saudi Arabia and Spain’s Navantia plan combat management systems venture

Updated 18 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia and Spain’s Navantia plan combat management systems venture

  • The SANNI venture will integrate and adapt Navantia’s combat management systems for Saudi navy corvette ships

ABU DHABI: State-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) signed an agreement on Monday with Spanish state-held shipbuilder Navantia to set up a joint venture to provide combat systems, the new partnership’s chief executive said on Monday.
The SANNI venture, the name of which stands for SAMI Navantia Naval Industries, will integrate and adapt Navantia’s combat management systems for Saudi navy corvette ships, said Antonio Barberan at the IDEX military exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
SANNI is also in talks with other potential customers in the Middle East, he said.
SAMI owns 51 percent of SANNI, with Navantia holding the remaining 49 percent.
In November SAMI and Navantia signed an agreement to jointly manufacture five corvettes for the Saudi navy.