Iran’s new budget bill has been causing anger amongst ministers, officials and parliamentarians since it was presented to the parliament on December 25, with the Health Minister even resigning over a reported decrease in the country’s health and hygiene budget.
Although the details of the budget bill, for the Persian year beginning on March 21, have yet to be publicly released, some information has been leaked that appears to show some government companies being given billions of tomans without any accountability for their expenditures.
The Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company was set to receive 309,000 billion tomans, which is roughly 3/4 of Iran’s total budget.
Tasnim wrote: “This is while the country’s total welfare budget for 80 million Iranians is around 113,000 billion tomans which is around 1/3 of the budget allocated to the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company.”
Elsewhere, the IRGC, which is responsible for with domestic suppression and terrorism abroad, is set to receive over 25,000 billion tomans, which is an increase of 25% on last year’s allowance. While the Basij paramilitary forces, a more suppressive arm of the IRGC, was allocated over 1,300 million tomans, a 2% increase from last year.
While Iran’s cultural and religious institutions, which the Government uses to exert control over the Iranian people, has been allocated roughly 5,300 billion tomans.
Importantly, this is more the 13 times the amount allocated to the Environment Department, which is all the more shocking considering recent crises in Iran, such as droughts.
Where is the money coming from?
Something that is more concerning is that the Hassan Rouhani government has based the new budget on projected oil revenue that experts are predicting will not come. The Government is currently exporting 1 million barrels of oil per day, something expected to drop in May when the US sanctions waivers run out but have projected an export of 1.5 million barrels a day.
According to experts, the most that the Iranian Government can actually hope to export in the upcoming Persian year is 500,000 of barrels per day. However, they also warn that even if Iran can sell the oil, the Government will not be able to receive the money because of the sanctions. Instead, it is more likely that they will be given food for the value of the oil.
Rouhani did say that there may be some additions to the budget from other sources, which is believed to mean that he would withdraw money from the country’s savings.
Of course, the Iranian budget is designed to be unclear. This allows the mullahs to channel money into various illicit activities without attracting too much attention.