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Committees' work and meetings - January to February 2023

A summary of Kurdistan Parliament's committees' work and meetings in January and February 2023:

Finance and Economic Affairs Committee

16 January 2023 – The committee replied to correspondence and raised some of it with the relevant authorities for follow-up.

The committee discussed the decision of the Council of Ministers No. 182 on the preparation of the draft general lines of the budget bill for fiscal year 2023, and decided to write to the Council of Ministers to scrutinize the steps that have been taken to prepare the 2023 budget bill.

The committee discussed the Government’s instructions issued regarding spouses employed in the same Government agency or department, and they decided to meet with the Ministry of Finance and Economy to call for changes to the guidelines so that it serves the interests and needs of civil servant spouses.

21 February 2023 – The committee went to Amman, Jordan for several days to take part in World Bank seminars on strategic financial planning.

The programme, which was also attended by the Finance Committee of the Iraqi Parliament, included workshops on the relationship between Parliament and the Financial Audit Board, developing a guiding framework for amending or filling gaps in Iraq's General Financial Management Law, No. 6 of 2019, the 2023 budget bill, and strategic action planning.

The course was organized by the World Bank in collaboration with Kurdistan Parliament’s Research Centre and the Iraqi Parliament.

Consultant and expert Hassan Orfi and the MPs discussed the shortcomings in legislation and several principles were formulated to make implementation easier. A review of the administrative arrangements that regulate the relationship between Parliament and financial institutions was also carried out.

The committee chair Ziyad Jabbar said that taking part in the intensive programme by the World Bank, in collaboration with the Kurdistan Parliament Research Centre, provided a great deal of new information that will benefit planners and the whole country.

Agriculture and Irrigation Committee

January 2023 - The committee discussed how to help resolve farmers' land disputes and problems.

Choman farmer Kamal Hussein Taha explained the land and land-boundary disputes in Mami Khalan village.

The committee discussed the land problems in Gird Jutyar and Kark, and considered it essential that the relevant authorities resolve the issue.

The cases of several farmers in Duhok who were given licenses to drill water wells but which have been suspended by Duhok Governorate, was another topic.

The committee exchanged views on taxes on land that has not yet been registered, and the public’s demand that they not be registered or taxed.

Parliament Affairs and Complaints Committee

16 January 2023 – The committee discussed the building services at Naz City apartments and Italian Village 1 and 2, where MPs reside, and they decided to ask the Presidency of Parliament’s Diwan (administration) to meet with the residences’ services managers to look into any problems and complaints.

Relations and Kurdish Diaspora Committee

19 January 2023 - The committee issued the following statement:

Tragically, several Kurdistan Region citizens from Duhok were subjected to an unprovoked attack in Mardin, Turkey and five members of the same family were killed.

We condemn this crime in the strongest terms and express our condolences to the families of the victims.

We reiterate the KRG Prime Minister’s calls for the Government of Turkey to immediately investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Government of Turkey must prevent such attacks on our citizens from ever happening again.

9 February 2023 - The committee welcomed Austrian MP Dr. Eva Ernst-Dziedzic, spokesperson for the Austrian Green Party and deputy chair of the Austrian Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, accompanied by Austrian Chargé d’Affaires Dr. Andrea Nasi and Professor Thomas Schmidinger.

The committee chair Dr. Rebwar Babkayi thanked Austria for its assistance to the Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS, and highlighted the longstanding relationship between the people of Austria and Kurdistan.

They agreed on the idea of establishing a parliamentary friendship and coordination group, and the committee said that Austria should open a consulate in the Kurdistan Region.

Another topic was the current situation in Kurdistan and the wider region, and the parties' different views about how the next Kurdistan Parliament elections should be held.

12 February 2023 - The committee visited Turkey’s Consul General Mr. Mehmet Mevlut Yakut, to express their condolences to Turkey’s people and Government for the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake of 6th February.

Consul General Yakut thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government and the people of Kurdistan Region for being the first to deliver aid to Turkey and for continuing their campaigns of donations to the Turkish people.

The committee chair Dr. Rebwar Babkayi signed the book of condolence.

13 February 2023 – The committee visited Germany’s Consul General in Erbil, Mr. Klaus Streicher, to thank the German people and Parliament for their decision to recognize the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidi Kurds as a genocide.

The committee also appreciated Germany’s assistance to the Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS.

Their conversation also covered the need to implement the Sinjar Agreement to normalize the situation and help IDPs return home safely and with dignity.

Consul General Streicher said that Germany and Kurdistan Region have many shared interests and will continue their cooperation in different areas.

20 February 2023 – The committee reviewed their recent meetings and planned their work for the next legislative session that will start in March.

They discussed their ongoing monitoring of the problems facing Kurdish migrants and those who have disappeared on their journey and are still missing. They also discussed their scrutiny of the work of the KRG representations abroad.

The committee stressed that they should coordinate more with the Foreign Relations Committee of the Iraqi Parliament and take steps to this end.

Interior, Security and Local Councils Committee

23 January 2023 – In Baghdad, the committee led by the chair Shakhawan Rauf Beg (Change Movement), met with the Iraqi Council of Representatives’ (Iraqi Parliament) Security and Defense Committee.

Dr. Shakhawan Abdullah, Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, thanked the two committees for meeting and strengthening ties between their respective parliaments.

Dr. Khalid Obaidi, Chair of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defence Committee, warmly welcomed them.

They discussed the violations of Iraqi sovereignty by both Turkey and Iran, the bombing of the Kurdistan Region by both countries and efforts to fill the security vacuum between the KRG and the Iraqi Federal Government.

They also covered the need to step up efforts to control Iraq’s borders with its neighbours by increasing the number of border guards, and to give the Peshmerga forces their fair share of resources as part of Iraq’s Ministry of Defence, especially in terms of logistical assistance given to Iraq’s Ministry of Defence by the international coalition nations.

Another issue was how to accelerate the process of giving Halabja governorate status.

The Iraqi Parliament approved the creation of a joint secretariat of the two committees. The respective chairs, Dr. Khalid Obaidi and Shakhawan Rauf Beg, met for the second time in Baghdad to discuss in detail the mechanisms of the secretariat. It is expected to have two bases, one in each parliament.

The two committees decided to discuss the initiative with the the presidencies of both parliaments and obtain their final approval.

24 January 2023 – The committee in Baghdad met with Iraq’s President Dr. Abdul Latif Rashid, who appreciated their meeting with the Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defense Committee.

The committee expressed their concerns to President Rashid about violations of Iraq’s sovereignty, the security vacuum in areas between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army, the need to increase the number of border guard forces and to speed up the Federal Government’s implementation of Halabja’s change of status to a governorate. The MPs asked President Rashid to support them on these issues.

The President of Iraq supported the delegation’s requests, saying that these issues are of national importance and in the interest of all Iraqi citizens.

The committee later met with Fares Isa, the head of the KRG’s representation in Baghdad, who highlighted the biggest issues between Erbil and Baghdad, and with the chief and deputy chief of the Diwan of the President of Iraq. All agreed that the institutions of Kurdistan Region and Iraq should have ongoing meetings and collaboration in order to build stronger relationships.

25 January 2023 – On their return to Erbil, the committee chair and members highlighted the positive outcome of their visit to Baghdad, in particular the plan to establish a working group and a joint secretariat with the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defence Committee. The MPs decided to submit a report on their meetings to Parliament’s Presidency. 

The committee held a press conference about their visit to Baghdad.

They also responded to correspondence and raised some of it with Parliament’s Presidency for the necessary follow-up.

10 February 2023 – The committee reviewed their meetings in Baghdad with the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee where they discussed the security situation particularly on Kurdistan Region’s borders, and the idea of creating a joint secretariat for the two committees.

The committee replied to correspondence.

21 – 22 February 2023 – The committee visited the UK and met with parliamentarians and municipal and local council authorities in London.

Peshmerga Committee

24 January 2023 – The committee replied to reports and correspondence about problems facing the Peshmerga forces.

The committee decided to scrutinize the relevant authorities to resolve several issues, including forces’ promotion and retirement.

Legislative Committee

25 January 2023 – The committee discussed two laws passed by Parliament in 2022, but which were returned by Kurdistan Region’s Presidency for a reassessment of certain provisions. The Region’s Presidency has the right to return legislation, once only, that Parliament has passed. The two laws concerned were:

Law No. 8 of 2022, the Law on Seizure of Contraband and Prohibited Goods in Kurdistan Region – Iraq, which was partially returned to Parliament under the Kurdistan Region Presidency’s Decision No. 15 of 2022 for a review of point 7 of paragraph 2, and for the removal of paragraph 3 of Article 3.

Law No. 11 of 2022, the First Amendment to the Law on Environmental Protection and Improvement in Kurdistan Region - Iraq, which was partially returned to Parliament under the Kurdistan Region Presidency’s Decision No. 16 of 2022, for a review of paragraph 3 of Article 42.

The committee prepared their reports based on the Kurdistan Region Presidency’s request. The requested revisions will be put to vote at a future Parliament sitting.

Reconstruction and Investment Committee

30 January 2023 – The committee members exchanged views on the current price instability, and the high prices of services and electricity in residential apartment projects and new urban communities in Erbil. They called for prices to be reduced to reflect the current economic difficulties facing the public.

The committee replied to correspondence and raised some with the relevant authorities for follow-up.

15 February 2023 – The committee discussed the quality of investment projects and residential apartments and they decided to conduct field visits to ensure that they meet safety requirements particularly for earthquakes, which has come to the forefront of concerns since the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

The committee decided to prepare a comprehensive report on the matter and submit it to the Speaker of Parliament.

The committee replied to correspondence and raised some of it with the relevant authorities for further work.

19 February 2023 – The committee met with the Head of the KRG Investment Board, Dr. Muhammad Shukri.

Several investment project concerns, including the safety of buildings and residential units, were discussed, such as the conditions and criteria for granting investment project licenses in terms of buildings’ resistance to natural disasters and accidents, the details of building and housing unit codes, and coordinating to visit and monitor the projects.

On the housing units to be built especially for renters and those on low incomes, Dr. Shukri said, “We are making good headway on this and will announce the progress made in the future.”

19 February 2023 – The committee met with Agreen Abdullah, KRG Deputy Minister for Housing and Reconstruction, and called for inter-city road asphalting and dual carriageways to be speeded up, especially the Slemani-Garmian and Slemani-Darbandikhan dual carriageways.

They also discussed investment project licensing criteria and called for more emphasis on safety requirements so that all projects are built to withstand natural disasters.

Integrity Committee

31 January 2023 - All the letters and memoranda sent to the committee were discussed and raised with the relevant authorities for follow-up and resolution.

13 February 2023 - The committee, led by the chair Balen Ismail, visited Butrajaya, the capital of Malaysia, and met with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The delegation met with the heads of planning, strategy and supervision of the commission, who explained the main legal, security, cultural, educational and development measures to combat corruption. They pointed out that educating the public about corruption is one of the most important tasks.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is the country's largest and most powerful independent anti-corruption body.

Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce and Industry Committee

1 February 2023 - The committee welcomed Professor Gareth Stansfield, professor of Middle Eastern politics, and Mr. Salar Amin from the UK’s Consulate General in Erbil.

They discussed the outstanding oil and gas issues between Erbil and Baghdad and their constitutional disagreements.

They agreed that the failure to pass a hydrocarbons law in Iraq has hampered the energy issue and exacerbated the oil and gas disagreements between the KRG and the Iraqi federal government.

Endowments and Religious Affairs Committee

17 February 2023 – The committee conveyed their best wishes for the Isra’ and Mi’raj, the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) night journey:

We convey our best wishes to the Muslims of Kurdistan for the Isra’ and Mi’raj. We hope that this blessed night will be another opportunity to deepen the spirit of brotherhood, love and peaceful coexistence between all different religions and ethnicities.

Martyrs, Genocide and Political Prisoners Committee

20 February 2023 – The committee visited the directorates of martyrs' affairs and discussed the problems raised by martyrs' families.

The committee replied to correspondence and raised some of it with the relevant authorities.

The sub-committee that visited Armenia to participate in a major genocide prevention conference in December 2022 presented their report on their visit.

Another topic was people who went missing as children in the aftermath of the 1988 chemical bombardment of Halabja. The committee wrote to the authorities to present all the measures taken for the missing children of Halabja.

The committee decided to visit the committees of the Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs that were specially set up to implement the provisions of the Reform Law.

Culture, Civil Society, Sports and Youth Committee

1 March 2023 - The committee members expressed their views on the problems with the media in Kurdistan Region and suggested solutions to further regulate the sector.

They also discussed written demands submitted by several civil society organizations. The MPs decided to first discuss the demands with the relevant authorities.

Social Affairs and Human Rights Committee

19 February 2023 – The committee went to Sweden and were welcomed by Mr. Shorsh Kadir, the KRG Representative, who explained the KRG's political, diplomatic and consular work in Sweden and official bilateral relations.

The committee met with Kenneth G. Forslund, First Deputy Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, to discuss Sweden's political developments, including the EU, NATO and the war between Russia and Ukraine.

They exchanged views about the large Kurdish Diaspora in Sweden and how to strengthen ties, so that Kurdistan Region can learn more from Sweden’s experience of governance and legislation.

First Deputy Speaker Forslund was the driving force behind Sweden’s decision in 2015 to give military assistance and expertise to Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces in the war against ISIS.

The committee visited the Swedish Correctional Agency and met with officials of the Department of International Affairs and Programs. They discussed prisons, the judicial process and Swedish society, as well as the agency’s special cooperation with Kurdistan Region on some projects.

The committee visited the ‘state house’, whose officials explained the social issues, differences, collaboration and relations between the different institutions such as parliament, municipal councils and regional authorities.

On 22 February, in the Swedish Parliament building the committee met with the deputy chair of the Swedish Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee and several Social Democrat and Left Party MPs to discuss parliamentary affairs, and with the Social Insurance Committee to learn how they work and navigate the Government-Parliament relationship.

The Kurdistan Parliament committee gave an overview of their work and the similarities and differences between the Kurdistan Region's and Sweden's parliamentary and institutional work.

Members of the Swedish Parliament’s judiciary committee discussed some of the negative social developments in Sweden, especially the rise in crime and the formation of gangs committing murders and bombings, and said that Sweden's parties are working together to find solutions.

The committee visited an open and a closed prison. Sweden has 33 prisons, 46 correctional facilities and 32 health offices.