We reported recently on the excessive salaries and expenses being drawn by Iraq's parliamentarians -- it now seems the country has run out of money to pay for widows' benefits, farm crops and other programs for the poor.
According to Associated Press, in only the parliament's fourth session since being elected in March, its members demanded to know what happened to the estimated $1 billion allocated for welfare funding by the Finance Ministry for 2010.
"We should ask the government where these allocations for widows' aid have gone," demanded Sadrist lawmaker Maha Adouri on Sunday, one of the women who make up a quarter of the legislature's 325 members. "There are thousands of widows who did not receive financial aid for months."
Another legislator said farmers have not been paid for wheat and other crops they supplied the government for at least five months.
The cause of the shortfall was unclear, but officials have worried that the deadlock over forming a new government since March's inconclusive election ultimately would lead to funding shortages. Whatever the cause, the welfare cutoff has been felt among Iraqis.
"We are sick people and others are old, and not getting our welfare puts us in a financial crisis," said Fatima Hassan, 54, a widow who lives with her four children in Baghdad's Sadr City slum.