KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani chaired a meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday to discuss implementing best practice for the taxation system of the Kurdistan Region.

The ministers reviewed an internal pilot project tasked with developing a new legal and auditing framework. The framework updates current auditing practices and increases the transparency of the taxation system.

Prime Minister Barzani emphasised his cabinet’s commitment to an ambitious reform agenda, notably tax revenue reform in the Kurdistan Region, which will ensure fair implementation of the system and provide the government with the enhanced enforcement tools.

The cabinet also approved a project designed to improve monitoring and auditing of government and private sector budgets, the facilitation of which will be supported by the Ministry of Finance and Economy.

During the cabinet meeting, the KRG also approved the merging of the High Institute for Audits and Accounting with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, bolstering their research capabilities and raising scientific standards.

Prime Minister Barzani called for everyone to work together to ensure that public property and government vehicles are used in the best interest of the public and in accordance with government rules and regulations.

(Source: KRG)

By Dana Taib Menmy for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Abdul Mahdi urges Kurds to help rid Iraq of US troops

Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi arrived Jan. 11 in Erbil — his first official visit to the Kurdistan region since taking office — to discuss the country’s stability and the need for Kurdistan to cooperate with a push to expel US forces.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted Jan. 8 that Iran will “kick all US forces out of the region” in response to the Jan. 3 killing by US forces of Qasem Soleimani, chief commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units.

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KRG cabinet discusses reform agenda and public-private partnerships

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the cabinet to discuss the Kurdistan Regional Government’s ambitious reform agenda and the implementation of public-private partnerships.

Prime Minister Barzani welcomed the cabinet’s support for the government’s reforms, which will provide more fairness and transparency concerning the reorganisation of public sector salaries and pensions.

The cabinet prepared clarifications that will be sent to the Kurdistan Parliament, as its members review reforms of entitlements relating to the families of martyrs and political prisoners.

The cabinet also discussed how public-private partnerships might be utilised in modernisation projects. Prime Minister Barzani expressed his support for a pilot project, and requested that the Ministry of Planning examines it in more detail, to assess whether this project is in the best interests of the Kurdistani peoples.

(Source: KRG)

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has delayed payments to oil producers by several weeks.

In statements to the markets on on Thursday, Genel Energy, Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) and Shamaran Petroleum said that payments relating to invoices for oil production in August and September, which were due to be paid in November and December, will be received in January 2020.

(Sources: Genel Energy, Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP), Shamaran Petroleum)

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has delayed payments to oil producers by several weeks.

In statements to the markets on on Thursday, Genel Energy, Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) and Shamaran Petroleum said that payments relating to invoices for oil production in August and September, which were due to be paid in November and December, will be received in January 2020.

(Sources: Genel Energy, Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP), Shamaran Petroleum)

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani has today chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the draft Reform Bill, a central pillar of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s agenda.

Developed as a joint initiative involving all parties in the government, the Reform Bill includes a series of measures designed to provide more certainty and accountability on salaries, pensions and allowances for public servants.

Discussing the Bill, the Prime Minister confirmed that as well as providing more security for public servants, the Bill would also serve to streamline public expenditure by ensuring only public workers eligible for benefits receive them.

The Prime Minister noted that the Reform Bill represents the latest in a series of steps taken to transform the civil service, increasing transparency and creating a fair system for hardworking public sector employees.

The cabinet approved the draft Reform Bill by a majority vote. The Bill has now been sent to the Kurdistan Parliament for debate.

(Source: KRG)

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani has today chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the draft Reform Bill, a central pillar of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s agenda.

Developed as a joint initiative involving all parties in the government, the Reform Bill includes a series of measures designed to provide more certainty and accountability on salaries, pensions and allowances for public servants.

Discussing the Bill, the Prime Minister confirmed that as well as providing more security for public servants, the Bill would also serve to streamline public expenditure by ensuring only public workers eligible for benefits receive them.

The Prime Minister noted that the Reform Bill represents the latest in a series of steps taken to transform the civil service, increasing transparency and creating a fair system for hardworking public sector employees.

The cabinet approved the draft Reform Bill by a majority vote. The Bill has now been sent to the Kurdistan Parliament for debate.

(Source: KRG)

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today announced issuance of a notice of discovery to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq on the Baeshiqa-2 exploration well, in accordance with the requirements of the Production Sharing Contract, after flowing hydrocarbons to surface from the upper part of Triassic Kurra Chine B reservoir.

Following acid stimulation, the zone flowed variable rates of light oil and sour gas. Further testing of this and other Jurassic and Triassic zones is ongoing and will determine the next steps towards appraisal and assessment of commerciality.

The Baeshiqa-2 well was spud in February 2019 and drilled to a total depth of 3,204 meters (2,549 meters TVDSS).

DNO acquired a 32 percent interest and operatorship of the Baeshiqa license in 2017. Partners include ExxonMobil with 32 percent, Turkish Energy Company (TEC) with 16 percent and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with 20 percent.

(Source: DNO)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) took a significant group of members on a trade mission to KRI this week. Paramount was the need to review business opportunities and investment in the region and to learn directly from the Prime Minister Barzani his plans for business and industry.

The group, led by Baroness Nicholson, UK Trade Envoy to Iraq, Christophe Michels MD of IBBC and Eng Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman of IBBC included representatives from Jaguar LandRover, Crescent Petroleum, EY, Siemens, Sardar Trading Agency, Garda World, Stirling Education, KPMG, G4S, OilServ Kuwait, and from the DIT Mr Rawand Askary, and James Thornton of UK FCO.

The Prime Minister introduced a number of Ministers for discussion with the group, including KRI Minister of Electricity Mr Kamal Mohammad Saleh discussing project finance and other related matters. The DG of the KRIs MoI joint crisis coordination centre Mr Hoshang Mohamed discussed the clearance of IEDs & mines and the handling of the overall IDP and refugee crisis (that G4S have been heavily engaged with).

In conversation, Mr Barzani stated that ‘the KRI government will bring in reforms to cut down on red tape for the private sector to develop. It will pursue a policy of registering companies through a ‘one window’ online portal which should allow company registrations to be done in the same time it takes in western countries to do so. He also said that the new administration is streamlining overall bureaucracy for private businesses to limit unnecessary Government interference.

The Government is also planning to draft a new bribery law to fight corruption and is looking at reviewing its financial framework to encourage PPPs throughout the economy including education and health. Diversification of the economy is big on the agenda with agriculture, tourism and the manufacturing of goods being a priority. KRI should import less and produce more and eventually find markets outside its borders for its products. Foreign partners for all of this are sought after.’

A permanent revenue sharing agreement with Baghdad is top of the agenda among other things to allow credit export agencies to work directly in the KRIG.’

On Sunday the Planning Minister and Mr Amanj Raheem, Cabinet Secretary, Kurdistan Regional Government spoke, and the Ministers for Construction and Electricity attended the British Consulate Reception taking place at the JLR show room kindly sponsored by Sadar Trading Agencies – thanks to Mr Sardar Al-Bebany Chairman and CEO. Dr Dara Al Khayat, Chairman of KRI federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Erbil, hosted a Monday evening event and on Tuesday the mission visited Crescent Petroleum offices.

The trip continued to Baghdad

(Source: IBBC)

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has received a delegation from the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) headed by its chairman and the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, Baroness Emma Nicholson.

The two officials discussed strengthening bilateral trade relations between the Kurdistan Region and the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister outlined the government’s plans to modernise the Kurdistan Region’s economy, including through increasing local production and export levels and building up capacity in the service industry.

The Prime Minister highlighted the government’s commitment to working with partners such as the Iraq Britain Business Council to develop the Kurdistan Region into a preferred destination for investors.

Baroness Nicholson expressed the UK’s support for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s plans to diversify its economy and expand its sources of revenue, especially through the new government’s focus on transforming the agriculture and industry sectors.

(Source: KRG)