Iranian President Seeks Spending Boost in Iran Budget

A02935808.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday he was seeking a 17 percent spending increase in the budget for the next Iranian year.

Unveiling his budget plan to parliament, Ahmadinejad argued that ordinary people in OPEC’s number two oil producer needed to see the benefits of the dramatic surge in crude prices.

The budget for the Iranian year 1387, which starts on March 20, is the last submitted to this parliament before crucial legislative elections on March 14, when reformists are seeking to defeat conservative dominance of parliament.

“The government and the parliament cannot stay indifferent to this expectation. We need to redistribute the oil money to the people,” the president said in a speech to parliament.

Ahmadinejad asked parliament to approve a 2,710 trillion rial budget (285 billion dollars) compared to last year’s budget of 2,310 trillion rials (248 billion dollars).

The budget includes spending for the government and state firms. The government budget was set at 715 trillion rials (75 billion dollars), up 10 percent from the year earlier.

The budget, which must be approved by the Iranian parliament to become law, is to be debated in mid-February with a vote expected by the end of the month.

Ahmadinejad said the budget assumes an oil price of 39.7 dollars a barrel, a figure well below the current crude price on world markets of almost 100 dollars.

“We will be using 36 billion dollars in foreign currency, including for imports of petrol and developing public transport,” he said.

Owing to frenzied domestic consumption and a lack of refineries, the government has to spend billions of dollars on petrol imports. Pump prices in Iran are also heavily subsidized by the state.

Surplus oil revenues are supposed to be saved in an Oil Stabilization Fund for use in times of difficulty.

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