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KRG Council of Ministers regular meeting discusses international bank loans and need for a new higher education policy

 The KRG Council of Ministers yesterday held its regular meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. As well as covering participation in the federal Iraqi government and the situation in Kobane, the meeting also discussed the need to review higher education policies and a draft law on international bank loans to the KRG.

The Prime Minister shed light on the work and activities of this past week, notably the Kurdistan Region’s participation in the federal Iraqi government and the inclusion of the Kurdistan ministers. He expressed his particular gratitude to the Kurdistan Islamic Group party and its leader Ali Bapir, who showed great flexibility during the talks in order to preserve national unity. Prime Minister Barzani also said that the KRG’s policy is to resolve outstanding issues with Baghdad via dialogue, and that it will support Iraq’s Prime Minister Abadi to ensure those problems are solved. A delegation from the Kurdistan Region is planning to visit Baghdad to address the outstanding issues.

Regarding the war against terror and the situation in Kobane, the Prime Minister said that the KRG is monitoring the situation closely and will do what it can to help. Despite the geographical difficulties, there are still ways in which the KRG can help, and progress is being made in the KRG’s dialogue with the US and Turkey to urge them to provide assistance. Ten thousand Kurds from Kobane have arrived at the camps in the Kurdistan Region.

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani commended Prime Minister Barzani’s role in uniting all the Kurdish parties and reaching a final agreement regarding the Kurdistan Region’s involvement in the new Iraqi federal government. Mr Talabani thanked the Prime Minister for his efforts on behalf of the Council of Ministers.

Mr Yousif Mohammad, the KRG Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, presented a special report on the obstacles to accepting students in universities and institutions in the Kurdistan Region for the academic year 2014-2015. The proportion of graduates from high school far exceeds the available places in universities and institutions which has led to a large number of students being denied access. He called for a plan to identify the areas in which Kurdistan needs help.

The Prime Minister stressed that basic and higher education must have underlying objectives, and unfortunately the aim of most students is to seek employment in the public sector which is detrimental to the economy and society. Prime Minister Barzani added that the philosophy that everyone should graduate is not true and does not exist anywhere else in the world.

Prime Minister Barzani said that the majority of jobs and professions are neglected in the Kurdistan Region, because everyone wants to graduate from university and no one is willing to work in technical or service positions. A long-term basic and higher education strategy is therefore required to determine the needs of the Region, so that education programs and admissions plans can be prepared accordingly. The Council of Ministers therefore decided to set up a board to draw up a new education philosophy and policy. The ministers shared their views on the issue as well.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani discussed a draft law on “Borrowing money through loans to the Kurdistan Region – Iraq”. He clarified the process of borrowing international funds and explained that the KRG has examined the legal procedures with related international bodies and studied the authority and legal and constitutional permissions for borrowing loans from international lenders. He said that the KRG has come to the conclusion that it has the right to receive international loans.

The Deputy Prime Minister shed light on the legal procedures and the loan amount that the KRG can borrow from international banks. Several ministers presented their views and notes on the draft law, which will be taken into consideration and the necessary amendments made prior to Council of Ministers approval and its reading by the Kurdistan Parliament.

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