Iraq's Parliament Approves Govt Programme

By John Lee.

Iraq's Council of Representatives (Parliament) on Thursday approved by a majority the government programme presented by Prime Minister Mr. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

The programme is a general framework that sets out the government priorities, which include:

  • Holding free and fair early elections after finalising the new electoral law
  • Mobilising all resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and laying the foundations for a modern health system
  • Restricting weapons to state and military institutions
  • Submitting to Parliament a special draft budget law to address the economic crisis
  • Launching a national dialogue with all sections of Iraqi society, listening to the demands of the protest movement, bringing to justice those involved in the spilling of Iraqi blood and looking after the families of the martyrs
  • Protecting the sovereignty and security of Iraq, continuing to fight terrorism, and providing a national vision on the future of foreign forces in Iraq
  • Fighting corruption and protecting the wealth of Iraq
  • Promoting the values of shared Iraqi citizenship, respecting Iraq's ethnic, religious diversity, and rejecting all forms of discrimination
  • Providing all the necessary requirements to support internally displaced people to return to their home, and end internal displacement in Iraq

Developing and reforming security institutions

The programme outlines the government's plans to reform and modernise Iraq's military and security institutions, and confirms that:

  • The duty of the Iraqi Army is to protect Iraq's external borders, sovereignty, and democratic process. It must not operate inside civilian areas unless by exceptional orders from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
  • The security formations of the Ministry of Interior will be responsible for internal security, maintaining civil peace, the rule of law, and protecting human rights. These formations will be reorganised, will receive further training, and be properly equipped
  • The National Intelligence Service, the National Security Agency, the Counter-Terrorism Service, and Popular Mobilisation Units will continue to perform the tasks assigned to them as directed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
  • The security forces will be properly equipped and provided with the necessary arms and ammunitions to enable them to protect Iraq from terrorism and to secure its borders
  • The Armed Forces will be governed by a professional military doctrine with a strict respect for the chain of command, and be representative of all segments of Iraqi society

Addressing the economic and fiscal challenges

The programme outlines several measures the new government will implement to address current economic challenges, including:

  • Reducing public spending, ending non-essential expenditure, developing an effective system for collecting customs tariffs, and starting negotiations to restore Iraq's oil production share which was reduced recently
  • Working with global financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to develop programmes to minimise the impact of the economic crisis, especially in relation to reducing the budget deficit, and ensuring efficient management of financial resources
  • Establishing the Supreme Council for Construction and Investment which will be responsible for drawing up a comprehensive plan for building Iraq's infrastructure, and for encouraging investment in all provinces
  • Submitting to Parliament a draft Iraqi National Oil Company Law, and establishing a team to negotiate with oil companies changes to Iraq's oil licensing rounds to reflect recent developments in global markets
  • Launching a "Made in Iraq" national project to encourage local industry and agriculture by adopting appropriate mechanisms and laws, and through the consistent and effective application of customs tariffs
  • Directing the Central Bank of Iraq to develop a plan within a year for the modernisation of the Iraqi banking sector
  • Undertaking comprehensive administrative reforms of state institutions, removing unnecessary procedures, and implementing anti-corruption measures
  • Restarting the e-government and transparency projects to include all state institutions
  • Adopting programmes to empower young people to access jobs in the private sector and provide them with social security benefits similar to those enjoyed by their counterpart in the public sector
  • Expanding the scope of social security benefits to support low and fixed income groups
  • Adopting automation and modern technology in state institutions, especially at the Border Crossings Authority and  in the customs system

Iraq's foreign relations

The programme outlines three pillars that will guide the government's approach to foreign relations:

  • Sovereignty: Iraq will not allow any country to violate its sovereignty, and will not permit its territories to be used to launch attacks on any of its neighbours or be used as an arena to settle regional or international scores
  • Balance: Iraq will not become part of any regional or international axis, and will adopt a balanced policy of positive engagement with its Muslim and Arab neighbours, countries around the world, and abide by its international commitments
  • Cooperation: Iraq seeks to build an integrated system of common and shared interests as a basis for its foreign relations, and seeks to contribute effectively to resolving regional and international crises, combating terrorism, money laundering, and organised crime. The government will also commence detailed preparations for the upcoming talks with the United States on the future relationship between the two countries and the presence of the Global Coalition in Iraq, with the aim of preserving Iraq's higher interests and fulfilling the aspirations of the Iraqi people.

Combatting corruption and administrative reforms

The programme outlines a range of measures to combat corruption, including:

  • Conducting an audit of the financial records of companies and commercial entities belonging to political parties, public figures, and others which are suspected of having illegitimate sources for their assets
  • Reforming the system of awarding government contracts and changing investment rules
  • Enforcing current laws to pursue  and return Iraq's money that have been smuggled abroad
  • Holding corrupt individuals accountable, regardless of their influence

Delivering justice and judicial independence

The government will propose laws and adopt measures to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, and to pursuse and hold accountable law breakers.

Protecting the right to protest, empowering youth

The programme underscores the government's commitment to protecting the right to peaceful protest, describing it as a "fundamental democratic practice". It also highlights the critical role of young Iraqis in shaping the future of the country.  The programme commits the government to:

  • Establishing an advisory council of young Iraqis representing all provinces, linked to the Prime Minister's Office, to be part of the policy formulation process with regard to the government reform agenda. The proposed council will also advise the government on the development of mechanisms and regulations to protect the right to peaceful protest.

The Federal Government, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Governorates

The programme sets out a number of steps to regulate relations between the Federal government on the one hand and  the Kurdistan Reginal Government and the governorates on the other, including:

  • Working with the Kurdistan Regional Government to address outstanding problems in accordance with the Constitution
  • Working with Parliament to develop necessary legislation to organise the relationship between the Federal Government and the governorates in a way that guarantees an effective distribution of powers between the centre and the provinces.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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