(Thank you John for emailing this to Dinar Recaps.)
Iraq – NCSP and Federation Council are Two Different Functions of the Iraqi Government
By: John Singleton
Federation Council (Senate – second house of legislative branch)
Advancing Iraq’s unfinished constitutional agenda: Roundtable on the Federation Council
Drafted and adopted by a referendum in 2005, the Iraqi constitution outlines the structure of the federal government and stipulates what bodies should form its legislative, executive and judicial branches.
The legislative branch is to consist of the Council of Representatives (CoR; the Iraqi parliament) and the Federation Council, an ‘upper chamber’ of parliament that is broadly analogous to senates or upper houses in other parliamentary systems and is intended to represent regions and governorates.
The Federation Council can enhance the separation of powers, serve as a buffer between the executive branch and the lower legislative chamber, and afford the regions and governorates and their constituents a greater voice within the central government.
Due to a lack of consensus among Iraqi political leaders on the composition, powers and procedures of the Federation Council, however, the enabling legislation that must be enacted by the CoR to establish this Council has been pending ever since.
UNAMI is mandated to advise, support and assist the Government of Iraq in the enactment of the constitutionally mandated laws, the establishment of the constitutionally mandated institutions, and the advancement of the country’s unfinished constitutional agenda.
The Mission therefore actively supports the CoR’s work on the Federation Council and contributes to the discussions on the issue by sharing international best practices and comparative experiences.
The Federal Supreme Court’s decision on 1 October on the legislative procedure for the enactment of the enabling law of the Federation Council and the subsequent endorsement of a resolution to commence the enactment procedure by the CoR on 9 October gave new momentum to the issue.
The ‘Roundtable on the Constitutional and Legislative Dimensions of the Federation Council’ organized by UNAMI and the CoR in Beirut on 8-10 December 2012 sought to capitalize on this.
Chaired by the First Deputy Speaker of the CoR, Dr. Qusay al-Suhail, and the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Political Affairs, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, the three-day event provided representatives of political blocs and parliamentary committees with an opportunity to review key principles of the enabling law of the Federation Council and to study different models from countries with two legislative chambers in more depth.
The participants discussed the possible composition and powers of the Federal Council, the body’s relationship with the CoR, Council of Ministers and Governorate Councils, as well as whether it should have a veto on legislation.
Federalism expert George Anderson from the United Nations Department of Political Affairs in New York gave presentations on bicameral legislatures in federal and unitary regimes, international experiences of fiscal federalism, and on the role and membership of upper houses of parliament around the world.
An expert from the Shura Council, Dr. Abdullateef El-Naef, was invited to comment on the presentations, while the Governor of Baghdad, Dr. Salah Abdulrrazaq, and the Chairman of the Provincial Council of Ninewa, Mr. Jabr Al-Abd Rabbu, provided the parliamentarians with a governorate-level view of the issues under discussion.
DSRSG Busztin stressed to the participants that the UN is ready to be a partner to the CoR in establishing a body that is adapted to the specific context in Iraq and that, in particular, contributes to protecting the rights of vulnerable groups and of minorities.
He expressed his hope that the event would “contribute immensely to the deliberations in the Council of Representatives on the draft law and, ultimately, help to create an effective upper legislative chamber that will promote the consolidation of democracy in Iraq.”
Deputy Speaker al-Suhail believed that progress had been made towards achieving this goal. He expressed his gratitude to UNAMI for the good cooperation and coordination that had resulted in what he considered a very successful event that had allowed the organizers to collect ideas and opinions that would shape the relevant legislation.
National Council of Strategic Policies (Executive Branch)
The following article was published on Thursday by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The rumours began circulating yesterday and today they have been confirmed: Ayad Allawi, the leader of the secular Iraqiyya movement, no longer considers himself the candidate to the position as chairman of the projected “national strategic policy council”, a new political institution with ill-defined powers that was included in the grand political agreement on a new government by Iraqi leaders last November.
It should perhaps be added that Allawi has gone far in dismissing the council in media interviews previously; his level of outspokenness on this occasion is however unprecedented.
The council, an extra-constitutional concoction created largely to compensate Allawi personally for his thwarted prime ministerial ambitions, was always going to be a difficult proposition.
Unsurprisingly, from day one there was disagreement on its exact prerogatives, with Allawi hoping it would include executive powers in key areas of government, and with Nuri al-Maliki and his all-Shiite State of Law alliance taking the opposite view of it, i.e. seeing it more as a deliberative think tank.
Marshalling the arguments of constitutionalism and separation of powers, State of Law had some success in making the case that it would be hard to accommodate an additional executive institution in Iraq’s political system.
It should be added that even the draft versions of the law that did exist had watered down the powers of the council and Allawi’s role in it quite considerably: For example, an 80% consensus requirement for decisions to have executive force meant that the council would rarely have played an active role in shaping government policy anyway – and that Allawi’s personal role as chairman would not be particularly prominent.
Symptomatically, perhaps, the latest rounds of debate between the blocs have focused on petty issues concerning Allawi’s precise ceremonial status in relation to the existing ranks of leadership positions. It is to be expected that the whole project will founder if Allawi is no longer interested.
Even as Allawi is making this dramatic decision, it is hard to follow his attempt at reorientation. The eminently logical thing for him to do would be to take as much of Iraqiyya as possible into a purely opposition role in parliament, where the bloc would be free to speak its mind on core issues that resonates with its electorate.
Instead, today, he is reverting to old talk of good relations with the Sadrists, ISCI and the Kurds, apparently forgetting that those were the forces that ultimately betrayed his prime ministerial ambitions in summer 2010, and that a critical mass of them still seem interested in playing along with Maliki inside government.
It cannot be stressed sufficiently that the strategic policy council was first and foremost Washington’s project in Iraq, and an attempt at keeping up appearances and creating a consolation prize for Allawi while tacitly – in the case of Ambassador Chris Hill, actively – accepting Iran’s push for a government formation based on a sectarian Shiite alliance.
Last November, sources in the Obama administration gave glowing accounts of how American diplomats were present during the final negotiations where the deal on the strategic policy council was supposedly clinched, whereas the Iranians were absent.
Today, four months later and with the apparent death of the strategic council, the power-sharing structure of Iraq’s new government is looking even more like 2006 than before.
Another question I heard recently was how can Iraq adopt a budget when it has no money? Countries do not operate like households; countries need a budget so that they can have money, not the other way around.
Most consumers have a tendency to view what's happening with a country in terms of how we normally live as individuals. Countries operate with debt money and the only way a country can create cash flow is by going into debt.
It's ability to go into debt depends upon what its population can produce and it's ability to recover natural resources. This allows a country to create a budget and based upon these numbers, counter parties will then be able to purchase bonds, bills and other obligations and the banking system will then be able to provide the liquidity needed to begin disbursing money.
Iraq needs it's budget to be voted into law so that it can then derive the money needed to fulfill the terms of the budget. As it happens, the Oil & Gas Law is an integral part of the budget because it establishes the rights and liabilities of all the money from the nation's oil and gas proceeds.
The Central Bank of Iraq needs the 2015 Budget and the HCL laws in place so that the cash flow in and out of the country can be viewed in a stable environment.
There will be no revaluation until the budget and HCL are implemented. What's even better news is that the current budget has not even considered the several new oil wells and the recently discovered gold.
These probably will not be included in the accounting until the next two budgets. Once the budget and HCL laws are implemented, we will know that the disputes over Article 140 of the Constitution have been resolved.
Both the IMF and the Central Bank of Iraq have a plan to revalue the currency in Iraq, we know this; however, some people mistakenly believe that the currency will be left in a “free float”. The people promoting these ideas are over-thinking the matter and not reading the articles.
A free float creates too much volatility. The published plan, which has not ever been altered, requires a managed float, just like is currently in place for every other modern economy in the world (except Russia temporarily).
The Dinar's managed float will be adjusted within 2% every 90 days for the first two years after the revaluation.
There will be no “free float”, just like there is no such thing as “an emergency RV” to get Iraq some capital. These ideas oppose the very fundamentals of economics and how banks manage their business to make a profit.