Member of Kurdish Peshmerga forces monitors surrounding area
Baghdad - Arab Today
Baghdad is sending a payment of $412 million to Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, a sign that a budget deal between the two sides is still on track, the finance minister said Thursday.
"A decision has been taken by the government and the finance ministry to send a payment worth... 490 billion Iraqi dinars ($412 million/389 million euros) to the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) to cover actual expenses for February," Hoshyar Zebari told AFP.
The payment includes funding for the Kurdish peshmerga security forces, who are battling the Islamic State group that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad last year, Zebari said.
Another payment will follow at the end of March.
Baghdad and Kurdistan had reached a deal under which the three-province region would export 250,000 barrels of oil per day and 300,000 bpd from disputed Kirkuk province, while the federal government would release the region's share of national revenue.
Kurdistan has exported less oil than expected by the budget this year but has worked to ramp that up, while Baghdad has not yet paid the full amount to the region, Zebari said.
"Both sides literally showed a commitment to the deal, although neither side fulfilled its full commitment," he said.
But "it's an indication that both Baghdad and the KRG are committed to the oil and budget deal that was reached before the end of 2014."
Baghdad and Kurdistan have long been at odds over revenue sharing and natural resources, differences that kept a federal budget from being passed last year.
Following the agreement between the two sides, parliament approved the 2015 budget at the end of January.