After two weeks of back and forth discussions and secret negotiations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has finally submitted his new budget to parliament.
Preparing the budget covering March 21, 2019-March 20, 2020 has apparently been a painstaking exercise, as Iran’s economy is gripped by multiple crises, compounded by tough U.S. sanctions.
The most severe and immediate problem for Tehran is Iran’s oil exports, which provide the largest chunk of the budget but have been halved in recent months due to sanctions imposed on November 5.
The budget bill was supposed to be submitted to parliament two weeks ago, but Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded to review the document.
In his speech to parliament on Tuesday, Rouhani ascribed President Donald Trump’s tough policies towards Iran to internal popular protests. He said that unrest in Iran last December and January convinced Washington to adopt a new, tougher position against the Islamic Republic.
President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran on May 8 and reimposed crippling economic sanctions.
According to IRNA, Rouhani also highlighted two other points. First, he said that if oil was not such a big revenue source for the state, Iran would be less vulnerable to U.S. sanctions. Second, he emphasized that in order to save itself from corruption the state must become more transparent.
Rouhani, under pressure from international watchdogs, has proposed a series of four bills to strengthen the country’s laws against money laundering, corruption and financing terrorism. The conservative hardliners, however, have so far blocked the new laws, despite approval by parliament.
Below the podium where Rouhani was speaking there was a banner expressing best wished to Christians on Christmas.
So far very little information is available on the details of the new budget bill.