Finance Minister: Iraq to Hire 10,000 New Military Forces in Fight against Terrorism

Finance Minister: Iraq to Hire 10,000 New Military Forces in Fight against Terrorism
Thu Oct 29, 2015 20:06:17

Iraq’s finance minister says plans by the army to hire thousands of new paramilitary forces have been approved despite budget squeeze and stumbling oil prices.

Hoshiyar Zebari said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that Iraq’s next year budget will allow the recruitment of an additional 10,000 forces by the military although budget cuts may affect final figures.

“I think we gave them ... about 10,000 new recruits which they have requested, but they have their budget within the security forces,” he said, adding, “We will pay their salaries, we pay for their equipment, we pay for their basic war needs.”

Zebari said an estimated USD 1 billion will be allocated to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a key element in Iraq’s current battle against the ISIS Takfiri group which includes volunteer fighters from Iraq's Shia and Sunni communities. That money would constitute about five percent of Iraq’s projected defense spending.

Many say that the PMF should gain more support from the government in Baghdad as it has proved to be more successful than the military in the ongoing battle against ISIS. The volunteer fighters have managed to retake key positions from militants in north Iraq, including Tikrit and Baiji, two major bastions of ISIS in Iraq’s Salahuddin Province.

Oil accounts for more than 80 percent of Iraq’s fiscal revenues.

Zebari said Iraq’s 2016 draft budget envisages expenditure of about USD 95 billion with a nearly USD 21 billion deficit. The figure shows clear cuts compared with original projections for this year of roughly USD 105 billion of spending and a USD 22 billion deficit with many blaming the decrease on the lower oil prices in the global markets; Press TV reported.

S/SH

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