Iraq’s Council of Ministers (Cabinet) has announced details of its decision taken at its regular weekly meeting on 09/06/2020 in relation to the payment of more than one salary and other benefits to former detainees at Camp Rafha.

The decision ends the payment of more than one salary, restricts the payment to heads of household provided that they reside in Iraq, and limits the amount to no more than 1,000,000 Iraqi dinars per recipient.

Here is the decision in full:

The Council of Ministers

Decree No. (27) for the year 2020

The Council of Ministers decided at its fifth regular session, held on 9/6/2020, the following

1: The payment of the entitlements to detainees at Camp Rafha shall be made in accordance with the provisions of Law (35) of 2013, provided that the amount does not exceed an upper limit of  1,000,000 Iraqi dinars and meet the following conditions:

a) The detainee must be residing in Iraq

b) The detainee is currently the head of a household – payment will only be made to heads of household, and not to any other member of their household

c) The detainee is not in receipt of other salary, pension or any other income from the state

d) Recipients bear the responsibility for receiving salaries other than those in paragraphs (a, b, c) above, and proceedings will be taken against them

2: The Foundation of Political Prisoners shall ensure that the aforementioned conditions are met.

3: Other than the aforementioned, the financing of pensions and any financial entitlements of the detainees of Camp Rafha as stipulated in the Political Prisoners Law number (4) of 2006, as amended by Law number (35) of 2013, shall be suspended until further notice.

4: The implementation of Article (10) of Law number (26) of 2019, and of the First Amendment of the Unified Pension Law number (9) of 2014 regarding the abolition of all legal texts that allow for the payment of two or more salaries, except for the categories mentioned above.

The Iraqi government took this decision as the first in a broader set of reforms aimed at rationalising expenditure, reducing costs, delivering fairness, and addressing anomalies in public spending.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Some of Iraq’s most traditional craft works are at risk of vanishing, as a nationwide financial crisis hits home-grown industries.

The government hopes prioritising the development of its private sector will help its otherwise oil-dependent economy.

Al Jazeera‘s Simona Foltyn has this report from Baghdad:

By John Lee.

Genel Energy has announced the appointment of Canan Ediboğlu as an Independent Non-Executive Director, with immediate effect.

Canan has significant industry, financial, and corporate experience. She has been a non-executive board member of ING Bank in Turkey since 2010, and Tupraş since 2017. Canan was formerly non-executive Board member of Aygaz between 2011 and 2017, and a non-executive Board member of Pyrsmia Turkey between 2013 and March of this year.

Prior to this, Canan spent almost 30 years at Royal Dutch Shell, culminating in her role as the country chair and CEO of Shell Turkey, roles she held between 2001 and 2009. She was previously CFO of Shell Turkey, preceded by a series of positions at the company across numerous aspects of the business, notably marketing, treasury and planning. During her tenure as CEO and country chair, she was involved in leading a significant number of acquisitions and nurtured the growth of Shell in Turkey.

Following her retirement from Royal Dutch Shell, Canan advised Accenture on the setting up of their energy business in Turkey, and spent nine years advising Maersk and APM Terminals on their port investments and improving their networking in Turkey. She is the former President of PETDER (Turkish Association of Petroleum Industrialists) and Chair of the Oil Industry Council Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges.

Canan is also an active member of various NGOs, and is a board member of the Turkish Autism Society, the Global Relations Forum, and Embarq – the Centre for Sustainable Transport, having previously been a Board member of WWF Turkey for a number of years.

With the appointment of Canan to the Board, the commitment made by the Company to return the Board to an equal balance of independent versus non-independent Directors has been fulfilled.

David McManus, Chairman of Genel, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Canan to the Board. She has a wealth of relevant industry and financial experience, as well as extensive work with NGOs. Canan will bring further insight and perspective to the Board as we aim to fulfil our goal of generating significant shareholder value, while acting as a socially responsible contributor to the global energy mix.”

No information is required to be disclosed under Listing Rule 9.6.13R.

Genel instructed independent board search and advisory consultants Russell Reynolds in connection with the appointment.

(Source: Genel Energy)

By John Lee.

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Trade Bank of Iraq’s (TBI) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B-‘ with Negative Outlook. A full list of rating actions is below.

The Negative Outlook mirrors that on the sovereign. This reflects the impact of oil price slump on Iraq’s fiscal and external finances, near-term uncertainty over the sovereign’s financing plan and limitations on policymakers’ ability to respond to the fiscal crisis.

The Iraqi economy is undiversified and highly dependent on oil, which accounts for 50% of its GDP and close to 90% of fiscal revenues. Fitch forecasts the budget deficit to widen to 19% of GDP in 2020 and government debt/GDP to increase to an average of 80% in 2020-2021 from 47% in 2019.

Larger budget deficits will severely constrain government capital spending and banks’ credit growth. Fitch expects real GDP to shrink 9% in 2020.

More here.

(Source: Fitch)

By Azhar Al-Ruabie for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Basra, the richest city in Iraq with little water to drink

Iraq’s third-largest city, Basra, was once called “Venice of the East” due to the numerous water canals and bridges meandering throughout the entire city.

This description is no longer true, as the Shatt al-Arab (“Stream of the Arabs”) and its branches have become polluted with algae, bacteria, chemical toxins, and waste products from humans, hospitals and factory residuals.

Click here to read the full story.

Al-Burhan Security (ABS) has introduced quality management processes from day one of its operations to prepare for ISO 18788:2015, ISO 9001:2015 accreditations and also ANSI/ASIS PSC1.

With a focus on quality management systems and processes the ABS Leadership team continues to work hard to further develop quality and operational procedures to ensure compliance with the certifications. ABS General Manager Martin Aggar along with our management team have worked extremely hard to make this possible.

As a result of this hard work and working with MSS Global the ABS’s Management Systems were audited this year. The stage 1 audit took place in February 2020 and the stage 2 audit was completed in June 2020. As a result of these audits by MSS Global we are delighted that ABS has been certified and found to meet with the requirements of ISO 18788:2015, ISO 9001:2015 and ANSI/ASIS PSC1.

The hard work does not stop now though – ABS will continue to work to further develop its processes, procedures and management system to ensure the certification is maintained and the business continues to focus on development.

(Source: ABS)

By John Lee.

According to Bloomberg Law, a group of bondholders of Shamaran Petroleum has reportedly appointed restructuring specialists Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP to advise on ongoing debt talks.

ShaMaran Petroleum said last week that that it continues to examine alternatives to address a breach of financial covenant and liquidity shortfall, and that difficult discussions with its largest independent bondholders are continuing.

The Canadian company has a 27.6 percent direct interest in the Atrush Block production sharing contract in Iraqi Kurdistan.

More here (subscription required).

(Sources: Bloomberg Law, Shamaran)

Timely $10 million USAID contribution protects more communities against COVID-19 outbreak

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed over US$10 million recently to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq, allowing the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to scale-up its response to the pandemic into three additional governorates.

The funds – pledged under UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization for activities implemented in partnership with the Government of Iraq – will be used to rehabilitate healthcare facilities and provide medical equipment and furniture to hospitals in the originally-identified priority locations of Basra, Duhok, Karbala, Kirkuk, Najaf, and Ninewa, as well as three additional areas: Babil, Dhi Qar and Maysan.

Funding will also be used to rehabilitate the East Mosul Medical Fluid Factory – one of the largest in Iraq, and a critical source of medical supplies to government hospitals, primary healthcare centres and pharmacies. The factory was severely damaged in the ISIL conflict.

“The steep rise in COVID-19 cases detected over the past few weeks is gravely concerning and shows that the virus has not yet reached its peak in Iraq,” says Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

“USAID’s generous contribution comes at exactly the right time, allowing us to target even more communities by expanding our geographical scope to an additional three underserved governorates. As our biggest donor, we’re extremely grateful for USAID’s continued dedication to putting vulnerable communities first, and leaving no-one behind,” she adds.

“The United States is proud to support this work to combat COVID-19 and assist the people of Iraq; this work will directly support citizens throughout the country to get the high-quality treatment they need to fight coronavirus,” said Dana Mansuri, USAID Mission Director.

USAID joins Belgium, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden as key partners supporting UNDP Iraq’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Source: UN)

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh and his Iraqi counterpart Ihsan Abdul Jabbar discussed ways to promote cooperation between the two neighbors in the oil industry.

In a telephone conversation, Zangeneh and Abdul Jabbar called for the expansion of oil cooperation between the two Muslim neighbors.

The Iranian minister congratulated Abdul Jabbar on taking office as the new oil minister of Iraq after formation of a new government under Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s leadership, according to the Iranian government’s official website.

Abdul Jabbar said Iraq’s daily export of crude in June has reached 2.8 million barrels.

The Iraqi oil minister also emphasized that it would be in Iraq’s interests to abide by a production cut agreement between OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, saying the Iraqi Kurdistan Region has been directed to comply with the OPEC+ deal and cut its share of oil output.

The OPEC members, Russia and other oil producing nations agreed in April to cut output by around 10% of global supply to support oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)