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Iraq Planning to Cut in Half Salaries, Benefits of Top Officials

Iraq’s government is planning to cut the pay and benefits of top officials by more than half, said Ali Al-Dabbagh, the government spokesman.

The government approved a draft law that reduces salaries and sent it to parliament for approval, Dabbagh said in an e-mailed statement today. The money saved will be used for reconstruction projects and to achieve equality in pay and benefits, he said.

Iraqi protesters, inspired by unrest across the Arab world, have taken to the streets to demonstrate against poor living conditions, power rationing and corruption. Iraq, owner of the world’s fifth-biggest crude reserves, is seeking foreign investment to help boost energy exports and pay for rebuilding a shattered economy and infrastructure following decades of war and sanctions.

The draft law would cut by more than 50 percent the salaries and benefits of the president, the prime minister, the parliament speaker and all their deputies, Dabbagh said. Compensation for ministers and members of parliament would be slashed by more than 40 percent, he said.

Parliament approved a 96.6 trillion-dinar ($82.6 billion) budget for 2011 that forecasts a deficit of about 15.7 trillion dinars.

Iraq has awarded 15 contracts for oil and gas exploration licenses since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that ousted the administration of former President Saddam Hussein.

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