Iran president gets approval for $319bn budget
Tehran, February 11, 2014
The first state budget proposed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has sailed through parliament, handing him a political victory as he seeks to build domestic support for international negotiations on the country's nuclear programme.
Parliament on Sunday approved a budget bill worth 7,930 trillion rials ($319 billion at the official exchange rate) for the next Iranian calendar year, which starts on March 21, official media reported.
The budget slows growth in spending in an effort to repair state finances that have been ravaged by economic sanctions. Expenditure is to rise about nine per cent from the original budget plan for the current year - not nearly enough to keep pace with inflation, which is running near 40pc.
"Everything passed by parliament is acceptable to us. There are only a few differences but they are not major," a deputy to Rouhani, Vice-President for Parliamentary Affairs Majid Ansari, was quoted as saying by the Irna news agency.
Rouhani, who took power last August after elections, needed only 10 days of debate to get his budget passed, an apparent endorsement of his administration as it tries to get the sanctions lifted by reaching a deal with world powers on Iran's disputed nuclear plans.
By contrast Rouhani's predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took a hard line with the West, continually feuded with parliament over economic issues including the budget, which was passed with delays of several months.
To seal a nuclear deal, Rouhani will need to overcome domestic opposition from opponents of his relatively conciliatory approach towards the West.
Rouhani told parliament in December that Ahmadinejad had squandered oil revenues on cash handouts and housing projects, and that Iran faced a mix of high inflation and stagnating growth, with the economy shrinking 6 per cent in the past year.-Reuters