‘Govt. could offset budget deficit by selling assets, stocks’

December 28, 2019 - 14:55

TEHRAN – Deputy head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) says the government can compensate the probable deficits in the next year’s development budget by selling its stocks and assets.

According to Mohammad Amirzadeh, although the next year’s budget bill has been set based on the prediction of selling one million barrels of oil, but this doesn’t appear to be the case, so the budget for development project could witness a deficit, the ICCIMA portal reported on Saturday.

In the next year's budget bill, the allocations for development is projected to grow by about 12 percent, which, if calculated against this year's figure, would boost the development budget from the current 620 trillion rials (about $14.7 billion) up to 700 trillion rials (about $16.7 billion), Amirzadeh said.

“The issue is that the development budget depends on oil revenues, and in the upcoming year, the realization of oil revenues is also subject to uncertainty,” he added.

The government owns the stocks of major companies in various sectors such as steel and petrochemicals, and can spend part of the proceeds from the sale of such stocks on development projects, according to Amirzadeh.

Earlier this month, President Hassan Rouhani submitted the administration’s draft of the national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year 1399, which starts on March 20, 2020, to the Majlis.

The proposed budget amounted to about 19.88 quadrillion rials (about $473.3 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials), with a 14-percent rise from the current year’s approved budget.

The bill has estimated the government’s budget at 5.63 quadrillion rials (about $134.04 billion), 8.2 percent higher than the figure in the present year’s budget.

According to the submitted bill, revenues from exporting oil, gas and gas condensate are estimated at 454.9 trillion rials (about $10.83 billion), down 66 percent from 1.37 quadrillion rials (about $32.61 billion) approved in the current year’s budget.

The government has envisioned various strategies for compensating the next year’s budget deficit due to the fall in oil revenues.

Transferring government’s assets, using forex reserves, selling Islamic bonds, and withdrawing 450 trillion rials (about $10.714 billion) from National Development Fund (NDF) were among the strategies approved by the country’s Supreme Council of Economic Coordination.

EF/MA

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