Kurdistan’s PUK says don’t accept repaying Korek Telecom’s debt from Iraqi national budget

Posted on January 25, 2015 by Editorial Staff in Corruption, Telecom – ERBIL-Hewler, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’,— MPs from Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party PUK refuse to let Baghdad take Korek Telecom’s $375 m debt out of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG’s %17 annual budget share. Korek Telecom is a private company and the national budget is for citizen’s services, said a PUK MP.

Begard Talabani, a member of Kurdistan Parliament from PUK party, said that PUK bloc in the parliament will never allow cutting citizen’s budget to pay back a private company’s debt. The amount is worth a month salaries of half of the Kurdistan region employees, said Talabani.

According to the Iraqi 2015 Budget Draft, Korek Telecom, close to Barzani’s KDP, owes the Iraqi federal government $375 m of tax money. In case the debt is not paid on time, Baghdad will take the amount from KRG’s %17 budget share.Earlier this month, Shwan Dawdi, spokesman of PUK bloc at Iraqi Parliament, told millet that according to the 2015 budget income, each of the major mobile service providers in Iraq: Asiacell, Korek telecom and Zein have to pay certain amount of money to the federal government.

He added that Asiacell (Telecom company close to PUK) has already paid the amount, Zein paid half of it yet but Korek Telecome hasn’t paid any amount of the money yet. Sirwan Barzani, nephew of Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani, is the CEO of Korek Telecom, but it’s not yet clear whether he own the entire company or it belongs to the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP investment office or Barzani’s family.Korek was established in 2001 in Kurdistan region with over 3 million customers in 2010. Massoud Barzani and his relatives control a large number of commercial enterprises in Kurdistan-Iraq, with a gross value of several billion US dollars. The family is routinely accused of corruption and nepotism by Kurdish media as well as international observers.