Iraq Delays Budget on Dispute Over Kurds’ Share: Lawmaker

Iraq’s parliament postponed a vote on the federal spending plan as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s coalition requested a reduction in the share of Kurdish provinces amid a spat over crude sales, a lawmaker said.

The vote has been delayed “at least until next week,”Jaber al-Jabiri, a member of the parliament’s financial affairs committee, said by telephone from Baghdad today. The main reason is that Maliki’s State of Law bloc wants to decrease the semi-autonomous Kurdish region’s share of the state budget to 12 percent from 17 percent, he said.

The Kurds have asked for 4 trillion dinars ($3.4 billion) for payments due to oil companies working in the Kurdish region in Iraq’s north, while the budget draft allocates no more than 750 billion dinars for those businesses this year, al-Jabiri said. The Kurds said the 4 trillion dinars cover retroactive payments from 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well as 2013, he said.

Exxon Mobil Corp, Total SA, DNO International ASA and Genel Energy Plc are among companies caught in the conflict between Iraq’s central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government over oil-revenue sharing, production contracts and land. Tensions have deepened in recent months, with armed clashes in the disputed Kirkuk area in November and a halt in oil exports from Kurdistan by pipeline in December.

Iraq holds the world’s fifth-biggest crude reserves, according to BP Plc statistics that include Canada’s oil sands.

Disagreements over the Defense Ministry budget also played a role in the decision to delay today’s parliament session, said al-Jabiri, a member of the Al-Iraqiya bloc led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, an opponent of Maliki.