Iraqi PM defends draft budget bill as part of reform program

<p dir="ltr" style="text-align: justify;">Following the cabinet&amp;rsquo;s approval of the 2021 draft federal budget bill, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday, December 21, defended the legislation, saying that it will protect vulnerable groups and cut the salaries of senior government officials.

During a press conference, Kadhimi argued that &ldquo;the budget provided protection for the poor, as part of a comprehensive economic reform project, in light of a major global economic crisis afflicting all countries of the world,&rdquo; according to state-owned Iraqi News Agency.

Included in the budget was a salary reduction of 40 percent for Iraq&rsquo;s president, prime minister, and speaker of the Council of Representatives, collectively known as the &ldquo;Three Presidencies.&rdquo;

Among the most controversial elements of the legislation is the devaluation of the Iraqi dinar, which is designed to protect dollar-denominated reserves, but will also cut the value of salaries and increase prices of imported goods.

&ldquo;We made a change in the dollar exchange rate to protect the economy,&rdquo; Finance Minister Ali Allawi said during the press conference, adding that the impact of devaluation on the most vulnerable groups in society would be made up through social spending.

Kadhimi said that the &ldquo;great media uproar&rdquo; over the devaluation was evidence of &ldquo;political targeting&rdquo; of the government.

The prime minister also addressed Sunday&rsquo;s rocket attack on Baghdad&rsquo;s Green Zone, calling it a &ldquo;cowardly terrorist act.&rdquo;

He said that the government does not accept any attacks on the diplomatic missions and announced that the government had made arrests related to the incident, without providing details.

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