Debate Renewed Over Oil Revenue Surplus

By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The project designed to distribute the country’s oil revenue surplus directly to Iraqis is once again at the forefront of recent events, as political blocs have begun to prepare for the general elections next year. This comes amid fears that it may lead to additional inflation in the country.

Legislative elections are expected to be held in March 2014 in Iraq, even though parliament has not yet voted on the electoral law. Meanwhile, the Independent High Electoral Commission said that it needs six months to complete the preparations for the 2014 elections, starting from the moment the law is passed.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Bassem Jamil Antoine, an Iraqi economic expert, estimated that “each Iraqi citizen will be allocated nearly $50 a month from the oil revenue surplus,” provided that “the project’s implementation is preceded by filling gaps in the budget and increasing oil exports.”

The Iraqi Ministry of Planning announced in March that “25% of the budget surplus will be distributed to the citizens soon, retroactively for 2012 and 2013.”

Antoine said it was more likely that “the budget surplus in Iraq reaches $10 billion per year,” on the condition that “the general budget deficit is filled, exports increased and oil production raised.”

According to Antoine, “the budget surplus will provide every Iraqi citizen with a monthly income ranging between $30 and $50.” He explained, “This figure will exceed $50 if distribution is limited to poor families or those who fall under the poverty line.”

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