Text of speech by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani at the conference held today to announce the roadmap for reform and modernisation of the Ministry of Finance and Economy and debate the current financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region:
Dear Distinguished Guests,
Good morning to you all. I would like to thank representatives of foreign countries, Members of Parliament, representatives of political parties and businessmen for being here with us today. Welcome to this gathering to announce the reform plan of the Ministry of Finance & Economy of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
During recent months, various issues have become the source of intense discussion and debate in our Kurdistan Region. It is not surprising that our fellow citizens are deeply concerned about the situation and to see their concerns have reached a level higher than ever before. Their concerns are largely rooted in the financial crisis facing our region, in their daily struggle to secure a better life, to raise their children in good health and with good education, and to prepare for a comfortable life after retirement.
It is right that every citizen pay attention to these concerns. The response of the Kurdistan Regional Government over the upcoming years is to work toward ensuring that our economic system benefits all citizens. Our strategy should remedy social vulnerabilities, provide protection and safety, provide youth with real opportunities, bring about financial stability, and preserve our natural resources for future generations.
As we all know, dramatic events during last year were totally unexpected. It was a tough and challenging year for our people and the economy of our Kurdistan Region. We have been facing multiple shocks that require urgent response.
The sharp decline in global oil prices from more than $100 to below $30 per barrel within less than two years, which was totally unexpected, has been catastrophic. It severely affected our economic growth, our public revenue and our currency, and our social-economic condition.
Prior to the dramatic fall in oil prices, withholding the Kurdistan Region’s share of national revenue by the Iraqi Federal Government since the beginning of 2014 caused a surge in our budget deficit that excessively burdened government capacity to respond to unexpected circumstances. The war imposed by ISIS, compounded by the influx of nearly two million refugees and internally displaced persons caused by this war, has greatly exacerbated this financial situation. Notwithstanding our limited resources, the KRG remains committed to helping those in need during this period of turmoil.