A member of Iran’s parliament says Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided to take $1.5 billion from the National Development Fund to “reinforce" the defenses of the country.
Mahmoud Negahban Salami who is a member of parliament’s budget reconciliation commission told ISNA that Khamenei’s decision was announced Monday evening during the final review of Iran’s next year budget, starting March 21 2019.
The National Development Fund also known as Iran’s hard currency fund was established in the early 2000s to save some of the income from oil and oil-related exports as permanent savings for future generations.
But as the first round of international sanctions hit Iran in 2011, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government withdrew money from the fund and this trend continued during Hassan Rouhani’s presidency, as the country’s economy failed to improve in the wake of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
As next year’s budget was being discussed in the past two months, it was apparent that Iran could not afford an increase in its military budget and there was talk of withdrawing money from the Development Fund. With Khamenei’s decision now it is official.
The increase in the military budget takes place at a time when Iran is being pressured by the West for its ballistic missile program and its interventions in regional countries.