Northern Iraqi province Kirkuk plans to establish a commission to address its economic problems to the Iraqi central government in Baghdad, Kirkuk governor, Najmaldin Karim, announced Sunday.
Stating that Baghdad has not provided Kirkuk's ration from the national budget, Karim said "While all oil-producing provinces, like Basra, have received their shares, ours have not been sent for six months."
"Our resources have drained. We cannot pay the salaries of our workers and civil servants," the Kirkuk governor stressed.
Karim stated that the commission, including representatives from all political parties in the province, will go to Baghdad and hold official talks in order to solve the economic issues of Kirkuk.
Reminding that the central government in Baghdad is still providing financial support to Mosul in northern Iraq, the governor stressed "Baghdad sends $3.5 billion Iraqi dinars ($2.8 million) to Mosul every month for cleaning and municipality expenses, while we host 500,000 refugees."
Rehbar Talabani, president of Kirkuk provincial council, said Iraqi oil production, which is the main source of income for the country, are exported mostly from Kirkuk and Basra provinces.
"Kirkuk feeds Iraq. However, the federal government does not want Kirkuk to develop. The commission that is planned to be established will seek solutions in Baghdad to address Kirkuk's issues such as blackouts, sheltering refugees, and will aim to regain our share from the national budget," he explained.
"If Baghdad does not solve those issues, we will have a final say as the provincial council," Talabani warned, but did not elaborate on how.
According to the petrodollar system of Iraq, Kirkuk gets $1 for every barrel of oil that is exported. Baghdad decided to increase this amount to $5 per barrel before Daesh militants intensified their attacks in the country. However, the decision could not be implemented because of the financial crisis.
Iraq produced 3.8 million barrels of crude oil per day on average in May and exported around 3 million barrels a day.
- Blackouts in Kirkuk
Meanwhile, the province has been experiencing massive electricity blackouts, which sometimes last up to eight hours per day.
Yalcin Mehdi, the manager of Kirkuk electricity distribution company, told Anadolu Agency that the province needs at least an additional 150 megawatts (MW) of electricity.
"600 MW of electricity provided to Kirkuk is not enough. With the refugees, our electricity consumption has increased. People use more air conditioners with increasing temperatures in summer. That's why blackouts may rise to 10 hours-a-day in the following days," he explained.
Reminding that 20 electricity towers and eight high-voltage transmission lines are damaged during conflicts with Daesh militants, Mehdi said some villages south of Kirkuk have not had electricity in six months.
The manager noted that Kirkuk has $100 million debt to pay the private company it buys electricity from, and stated that if this debt is not paid, Kirkuk may face serious energy shortages.
As part of its share from the central government, Kirkuk gets 350 MW of electricity from Baghdad; on top of the additional 250 MW it buys from the private company.
Reporting by Ali Mukarrem Garip
Writing by Ovunc Kutlu