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Iran says new budget bucks US oil embargo, uses Russian loan

Iran says new budget bucks US oil embargo, uses Russian loan
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (file photo) Image Credit: ANI

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 US trade embargoes. Iran is in the grip of an economic crisis. The US re-imposed sanctions that block Iran from selling its crude oil abroad, following President Donald 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 US, 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 USD 5 billion loan from Russia that's being finalized.

He said the US 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 USD 40 billion, some 10 percent higher than in 2019. The increase comes as the country is suffering from a 40 percent 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.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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