Iraq Parliament Approves
Controversial 2013 BudgetParliament approves budget for 2013 after weeks of delay in
absence of Kurdish representatives, most members of main Sunni-backed bloc.
168 out of 325 MPs present at time of voteMiddle East Online BAGHDAD:
parliament approved on Thursday a $119.1 billion (91.6 billion euro) budget for
2013 after weeks of delay, but Kurdish representatives and most members of the
main Sunni-backed bloc did not attend, MPs said.
Parliament has struggled
to pass even key legislation such as the budget due to political disputes that
have deadlocked the body.
"The vote was held today on all the articles of
the budget," Ali Shlah, an MP from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law
There were 168 out of 325 MPs present at the time of the
vote, Shlah said, explaining that Kurdish MPs and about three-quarters of those
from the secular, Sunni backed Iraqiya bloc did not attend.
Talabani said the Kurdish representatives stayed away because they consider the
amount of money allocated in the budget to pay foreign oil companies operating
in autonomous Kurdistan to be insufficient -- a long-running dispute between the
region and Baghdad.
And Iraqiya is at odds with Maliki over its
accusations against him of authoritarianism and sectarianism.
al-Essawi, a leading Sunni and Iraqiya member who served as finance minister,
announced his resignation at an anti-government protest earlier this
Shlah said the budget contains additions from the version approved
by the cabinet last October, including salaries for anti-Al-Qaeda Sahwa
Officials said in January that those salaries would be
increased, a measure aimed at placating demonstrators who have held weeks of
protests against the government in Sunni areas of western and northern
The budget allocates about $16.9 billion, or 14.1 percent of the
total, to security and defence, according to parliament's website.
the security situation in Iraq has improved significantly compared to past
years, attacks remain common, killing 220 people in February, according to a
tally based on security and medical sources.