AP News

Parliament approves national budget for Iraq


BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's parliament approved a $118.6 billion national budget on Thursday after months of wrangling over how much should be allocated to foreign oil companies working in the country's self-ruled northern Kurdish region, a lawmaker said.

Kurds and the Arab-led government in Baghdad have been at loggerheads for years over rights to develop Iraq's vast oil wealth. Since 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Kurds have unilaterally signed more than 50 deals with the oil companies — deals Baghdad considers illegal.

Lawmaker Kamal al-Saiedi said after the legislative session that the Kurds asked for $3.5 billion while Baghdad only allocated about $650 million.

Baghdad has accused the Kurds of withholding billions of dollars in oil payments from state coffers, smuggling crude oil and petroleum products out of the country for sale abroad and failing to submit detailed records on how much the developers spent to develop the fields.

That allocation to the oil companies is separate from the 17 percent share the Kurds have received from the national budget since 2003.

Oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of the budget. It is based on an expected oil production of 2.9 million barrels a day at $90 a barrel.

Also Thursday, police and health officials said six people were killed and 10 others were wounded in attacks across Iraq.

In northern Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two civilians and wounded four, and in the southwest part of the capital, gunmen in a speeding car attacked a police patrol, killing a policeman and wounding four other people.

In northern Iraq, two civilians were killed by drive-by shooters in Mosul and a policeman was killed and two were wounded in a gunfight with two militants trying to plant a roadside bomb in Kirkuk. One militant also was killed in the incident in Kirkuk.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Violence has ebbed in Iraq, but Sunni insurgents still launch frequent attacks to challenge the Shiite-led government.


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