Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani chaired a video conferenced cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss economic repercussions of both drop in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as pushing forward with the regional government’s reform agenda that had been the centerpiece of the administration before the current worldwide health crisis pushed other issues aside.
According to a statement by the KRG’s press office, Barzani told his cabinet that, despite the dramatic recent fall in revenue, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would do all it can to ensure its people are affected as little as possible, adding that the government’s current priorities are public health, food availability, and continuing to pay salaries of public servants, which make up a large percentage of the population.
Underlining the government’s objectives for economic diversification in all sectors, notably a significant boost to agricultural capacity that is necessary to achieve food independence, is at the heart of his cabinet’s agenda. Toward this end, he expressed his full support for the ambitious long-term plans of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Ministers “decided unanimously that their main priority is keeping civil servants’ pay unchanged, while members of the cabinet agreed to offer half of their wages and bonuses for the next two months to the government treasury for redistribution to low-income families,” the statement added.
They also reviewed and approved a draft proposal for implementing the KRG’s 2020 reform agenda, that would guarantee the salaries of public employees. Concerned residents of the region have been expressing fears on Kurdish social media of a possible reduction in pay for government employees.
The senior Kurdish official tasked a legal committee with finding a mechanism to alleviate the financial burdens on daily wage earners and tenants who have been affected by the ongoing lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.