07/04/2012 15:01 BASRA, April 7 (AKnews) - Basra Provincial Council today denied wasting 24bn IQD ($20.6m) illegally, noting that the funds allocated to the council are spent legally.

Walid al-Hilfi from the council said the council does not have 24bn IQD and this is an exaggerated number.

He said the council receives financial imports from border crossings that go into the Basra development account. This account was set up by the former provincial council.

"We're working to use the allocations of the development account to implement specific projects in Basra and under the supervision of financial control. These returns are not fixed amounts but they differ according to the returns of the bordering ports of Basra."

Hilfi added that the chairman of the council has the power to spend only 20m IQD ($17,000) per month.

Member of the integrity commission in the Iraqi Council of Representatives MP Hussein al-Asadi accused Basra's local government of being responsible for the loss of billions of dinars from 2009 to 2011. Asadi pointed out that the council refrains from answering questions in this regard.

Hilfi said Asadi's charges about the lack of financial control were intended for the former 2008 Basra Provincial Council.

"Basra Provincial Council welcomes the positive criticism but at the same time we have reservations on charges that carry hostility against the provincial councils," said Hilfi.

He added: "The loss of ten billion dinars during the last year may represent an aspect of wasting public money and this prompts us to investigate this issue."

Hilfi assured about the "importance of the council to reveal the fate of 24 billion dinars, lost between 2009 and 2011, representing revenues of local government of petrodollars and the amounts provided by the donor countries that are outside the general budget of the province".

By Ammar al-Saleh