With the coming of the Persian New Year in late March, the President of Iran recently presented Iran’s 2019 budget bill to the parliament.
Although the details about Iran’s budget bill, presented to the parliament on December 25, have yet to be publicly released, what is obvious is that it has angered Iranian ministers, officials and parliamentarians alike.
So much so that Iran’s Health Minister recently resigned over what he called a decrease in the country’s health and hygiene budget.
The Revolutionary Guards affiliated Tasnim news agency also leaked today that some government companies were getting billions of tomans without any accountability for their expenditures.
“It is interesting for people to know that some companies, which are like the government’s (secret) backyard, receive a few thousand billions while their financial reports are secret and confidential,” Tasnim wrote.
The news agency said that the budget for the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company was 309,000 billion tomans, which is around 3/4 of the Iran’s total budget.
“This is while the country’s total welfare budget for 80 million Iranians is around 113,000 billion tomans which is around 1/3 of the budget allocated to the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company,” Tasnim wrote.
IRGC gets budget increase
The proposed budget for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, charged with domestic suppression and terrorism abroad, is more than 25,000 billion tomans which shows a 25% increase compared to last year.
The Basij paramilitary forces, despised among ordinary Iranians for its role in the suppression of protests and dissent, has a 2% increase in its budget with more than 1,300 million tomans.
The total budget allocated to Iran’s cultural and religious institutions is around 5,300 billion tomans which is 13 times more than what has been allocated to Iran’s environment, despite recent environmental crises.
Iran’s unrealistic budget resources
Rouhani’s government has stated that the basis for the new budget is Iran’s oil revenue which is based on an export of 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. This is while the regime currently exports 1 million barrels a day.
Experts estimate that even with the most optimistic outlook, Iran can only export 500,000 of barrels per day in the upcoming Persian year.
Even if Iran can sell its oil, it will not be able to receive revenue in currency because of the sanctions, and most of the regime’s transactions will be based on an oil-for-food program.
In another report today, Tasnim wrote that France had ceased its oil imports from Iran in September.
Iran’s official budget numbers are not very reliable, especially when it comes to military and intelligence activities. Given the lack of overall transparency, money from various sources can be channeled to covert activities, as it has been in the past.
While presenting the bill to the parliament, Rouhani said that there might be some additions to the budget from other sources which could be a veiled reference to withdrawing funds from Iran’s savings.
All of the items in the budget bill might be subject to change or amendments during the coming weeks as the parliament heckles over the bill.