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Iran: New Budget Bucks Oil Embargo     12/08 09:29

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's president said on Sunday his country will depend 
less on oil revenue next year, in a new budget that is designed to resist 
crippling U.S. trade embargoes.

   Iran is in the grip of an economic crisis. The U.S. re-imposed sanctions 
that block Iran from selling its crude oil abroad, following President Trump's 
decision to withdraw from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

   "The budget sends a message to the world that despite the sanctions, we will 
manage the country," President Hassan Rouhani told the opening session of 
Parliament.

   The proposed budget will counter "maximum pressure and sanctions'' by the 
U.S., he said.

   Iranian media, including the semiofficial Tasnim news agency, said that the 
submitted budget would raise taxes, sell some government-owned property and add 
more government bonds. But it wasn't immediately clear from Rouhani's speech 
whether these proposed measures would fully compensate for plummeting oil 
revenues.

   Rouhani added that Iran will also benefit from a $5 billion loan from Russia 
that's being finalized.

   He said the U.S. and Israel will remain "hopeless" despite their goal of 
weakening Iran through sanctions.

   The budget aimed at giving more relief and "removing difficulties'' for poor 
people by heavily subsiding food and medical needs, he stated.

   The next Iranian fiscal year begins March 20, with the advent of the Persian 
New Year. The budget is set to be about $40 billion, some 10% higher than in 
2019. The increase comes as the country is suffering from a 40% inflation rate.

   Parliament has until early February to discuss the budget bill. The Guardian 
Council, a constitutional watchdog, must approve the bill for it to become law.

   Iran's economic woes in part fueled the anger seen in widespread protests 
last month that Iranian security forces violently put down. Amnesty 
International says the unrest killed over 200 people. Iran has not given any 
nationwide death toll so far.


(KR)

 
 
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