Govt. sorts out next year’s priorities, environment features strongly

February 10, 2017

TEHRAN – The Iranian government declared on Friday its priorities for the next year with environmental issues strongly represented.

“Water, sewage treatment, the environment, and railroads will be four priorities of the next year’s budget,” said Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the government spokesman as well as head of the Management and Planning Organization.

The next Iranian calendar year 1396 starts on March 21, 2017.

Out of a total $486 billion national budget appropriated for the next year, the government will account for nearly $84.2 billion to run on.

Over the past years, Iran has suffered immense environmental damages, costing the country an arm and a leg.

Low precipitation, repeated droughts, overgrazing, and shrinking underground water resources have eaten into annual national budgets.

According to Kaveh Madani, an internationally recognized environmental scholar, large government subsidies allocated to farmers resulted in inefficient use of water in the agricultural sector, responsible for more than 90 percent of water use in the country. 

This year’s budget for environmental protection shows a jump of 133 percent, reaching nearly $185 million, almost three times of what was put aside in 2013.

This is negligent, considering the depth and scope of environmental damage already incurred.

Annual damage from air pollution is estimated to be $30 billion, according to Masoumeh Ebtekar, head of the Department of the Environment.

There are positives signs the country is becoming more conscious of environmental damage.

Stricter regulations are underway.

One key measure is the approval of levying green taxes on the industry sector, Ebtekar said.

AK/PA 

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