Economic crisis pushes Kurds to seek shelter in villages

Many government clerks in the Iraqi Kurdistan have returned to the countryside to work in the field of agriculture and horticulture because of months of unpaid wages due to the financial crisis in the region.

AFP reports that the economic situation in Iraqi Kurdistan is deteriorating due to falling oil prices and the Covid 19 pandemic. The consequence of this economic crisis has been the non-payment of regular salaries to the employees of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

According to the report, some employees of the Kurdistan region, who are disappointed with the payment of their salaries, have chosen to return to village and are engaged in agriculture and gardening.

Abdullah Hassan, 51, is a public service worker, for the first time in 20 years, has been forced to return to the village of Mam Rostam in Erbil, the center of the Kurdistan Region, to harvest grapes to prepare raisins in the absence of his monthly salaries in order to make a living.

He complained to the AFP about the non-payment of his salary by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government and told AFP that there was no work for them and that no salary would be paid. “It is better for farmers to return to their gardens and farms and get rid of government subsidies.”

According to economists, the main economic problem of the Kurdistan Region has been its heavy dependence on the one-dimensional oil economy. Mohammad Shukri, head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Investment Board, told AFP that putting all the eggs of the KRG economy in the oil basket proved to be very costly; when oil is expensive, we are rich, but when oil is cheap, we become poor. I do not call this a healthy economy.

Economist Bilal Saeed said one of the main mistakes made by Iraqi Kurdish leaders was to abandon other economic fields and seek income in the oil market.

"Instead of using oil money to develop agriculture, health and tourism, the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government has focused more on developing the oil industry and abandoning other areas," he said.

The economist called corruption in this area another economic problem in the Kurdistan Region, adding: "First, the dominant parties use the government's payroll system to gain political support. Second, they use government contracts to enrich businessmen close to them, and ultimately, money is simply taken from ministries' budgets for personal and political party uses.”

According to the report, although, according to Mohammad Shokri, 60 licenses have been issued this year to launch agricultural projects and workshops with a capital of $ 1.5 billion, it is not clear how many of them will be fulfilled in an atmosphere of frustration in the society.

Barez Rasoul is a factory owners who, despite the monthly production of 50,000 tons of steel, considers his business environment unsafe because, according to him, excessive imports have hindered the development of industrial activities in the Kurdistan region.

Bilal Saeed said that one of the strategies for the economic development of the Kurdistan region is cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad and the design of a codified and dynamic economic program.

Reporter’s code: 50101

News Code 148627

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