The Islamic Republic’s parliament has rejected general outlines of President Hassan Rouhani’s budget bill for the next Iranian year (beginning March 21) on Sunday, January 28.
Of 216 MPs present in the session, 120 voted against and 83 for the doomed bill. In almost four decades of Islamic Republic's existence, it was almost unprecedented for parliament to reject the generalities of a proposed budget bill.
The reconciliation commission of the parliament (a commission made up of representatives from all specialized commissions) has been given a 72-hour grace period to work out a better edition of the bill.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani reiterated that the joint commission must implement the proposed amendments within the next three days.
Earlier, the government’s spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht had cautioned that “Returning the budget bill to the reconciliation ommission only leads to wasting MPs time and relaying a negative message to the public”.
In the proposed bill, Rouhani had asked to raise the price of fuel, while the commission insisted to keep the price as it is.
The opponents of the bill argued that in Rouhani’s proposed bill, complicated problems such as drought and agricultural have been ignored.
“Addressing the budget deficit by dependence on state bonds”, “disregarding” the necessity of “creating jobs”, “dependence on oil income” and “increasing the share of National Development Fund” were other aspects of the bill that forced MPs to reject it.
Meanwhile, allocating 20 trillion rials (roughly $500 million) to Shi’ite seminaries created controversy in social media, leading to a campaign labelled as “Changing the Budget in Favor of the People”.
Moreover, a member of the reconciliation commission lamented, “While the Commission reduced the budget for cultural entities up to 2.600 trillion rials" it did not touch the budget for conservative clerics and organizations.
The proposed budget, argued opponents, has not reduced the size of the government and the number of state employees, as required by Iran’s Sixth Five-Year Development Plan.”
In the proposed bill, government’s next year budget is nearly 4,290 trillion rials which shows an 8.9% percent increase, comparing with the current year.
In the new bill, oil price has been calculated on the basis of $49 dollar per barrel and one US dollar against 36,300 rials.
The lion’s share in the budget, goes to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC which, by the Supreme Leader’s exclusive order, is going to receive an additional $2,5 billion from National Development Fund.
The bill was tabled by President Rouhai about fifty days ago.