Iraq Kicks Off 2016 Budget Debate

The leaking of the Iraqi Finance Ministry’s draft of the 2016 federal budget last month has set off public debate on issues which are especially poignant, now that ordinary citizens are impacted negatively by government spending shortfalls. A large amount of the $102.6bn budget passed in January for 2015 has not been disbursed, as revenue has fallen short of projections on account of weak oil prices. Spending categories most impacted have been capital investment projects (housing, water projects, etc), provincial funds and salaries for certain categories of workers, mainly those in the Industry Ministry’s loss-making manufacturing firms and contract employees. Regular civil servants in government-controlled areas have received salaries. While the 2016 spending figure of $97.4bn in spending is only moderately more realistic, there is a dramatic change in the proportion of 2016 spending devoted to operational expenses versus capital investment, from $66.5bn to $36bn for this year to $71.3bn to $26.1bn for next year. (CONTINUED - 514 WORDS)