TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran’s president presented a draft state budget to parliament on Sunday, saying it was designed to resist U.S. sanctions by limiting dependence on oil exports.
The United States reimposed sanctions with the aim of driving down Iranian crude sales after Washington withdrew last year from a nuclear pact between world powers and Iran.
"Next year, similar to the current year, our budget is a budget of resistance and perseverance against sanctions,” he told the parliament in Tehran.
"This budget announces to the world that despite sanctions, we will manage the country, especially in terms of oil,” he added.
The budget, he said, has taken the U.S. "maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic into account. "This is a budget to resist sanctions ... with the least possible dependence on oil.”
The budget forecasts revenues for oil, gas and condensates falling 40%, leaving a gap it plans to plug by using state bonds and selling state properties.
Although U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry have slashed the OPEC member’s crude exports by more than 80%, oil product sales remain strong, generating nearly $500 million a month, shipping data and Reuters calculations showed in September.
The president stressed that the enemies have failed in their plot to wreck Iran’s economy and that the government has taken big steps toward prosperity and progress.
"Our enemies - the U.S. and the Zionist regime - thought that with severe sanctions they would make the nation unable to build the country and the government impotent to enforce the law and budget, but they have been disappointed to this day and will continue to be so.”
Rouhani said Iran hoped a $5 billion loan which Iran had requested from Russia for development projects would be finalized during the budget year.
He said Iran would continue to subsidize basic goods and medicine in the budget, based at an exchange rate of 42,000 rials to the dollar, compared to the free market rate of 125,000 rials. Using the lower exchange rates makes them more affordable to ordinary Iranians who have complained of surging prices.
Iran’s move to reduce subsidies on gasoline by raising prices by as much as 200% in November led to protests.
"We know that under the situation of sanctions and pressure, people are in hardship. We know people’s purchasing power has declined,” said Rouhani.
"Our exports, our imports, the transfer of money, our foreign exchange encounter a lot of problems.
"We all know that we encounter problems in exporting oil. Yet at the same time, we endeavour to reduce the difficulty of people’s livelihood.”
Rouhani said that despite the U.S. sanctions, his government estimated that Iran’s non-oil economy would "be positive” this year.
The president also expressed hope that the measure would help Iran’s nascent self-sufficiency in gasoline continue.
By March, he said, gasoline
production in Iran will reach 110 million liters per day, twice the volume the country produced six years ago when his administration took office.
Rouhani gave the value of the nominally balanced draft budget at 4,845 trillion rials, equivalent to $38.8 billion at the free market exchange rate, for the Iranian year starting on March 20.
A separate draft budget for state companies, institutions and banks allocates them a total of 14,839 trillion rials.
Rouhani also said his administration plans to bolster the infrastructure for launching the National Information Network (NIN) so that it would become so strong as to obviate the need for taking advantage of foreign information networks.
Rouhani emphasized that one of the basic policies of his administration was to bolster the country’s infrastructure in such areas as health and treatment, environment, agriculture, utilities, communications and the internet bandwidth.
"Since the beginning of the 11th administration, the bandwidth has been increased about 20 times and we will continue this process so that we would make the National Information Network so strong that people would not need foreign networks to meet their needs,” he said.