Increase in budget is attention-diverting maneuver of Iranian gov’t

Increase in budget is attention-diverting maneuver of Iranian gov’t

Azerbaijan , Baku, Feb. 22 /Trend T.Konyayeva/

The Iranian government uses an increase in the budget of Iran as an attempt to repress people's anger, said Professor of Economics at the U.S. National Defense University and Georgetown University Paul Sullivan.

"The increase in the budget is an attempt to assuage the anger of the people, especially the unemployed youth," Sullivan told Trend via telephone on his own.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday submitted to the Parliament of the Islamic Republic a 5,390-trillion-rial (about $524 billion) budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year (to start on March 21). The new annual budget is 46 percent more than last year ($171 billion). Last year the total budget amounted to $368 billion.

Ahmadinejad told the parliament that his government is aiming to reduce Iran's reliance on oil income, and push ahead with a major subsidy phase-out. Moreover, he says one of the characteristics of the budget is to overcome inflation, poverty and unemployment.

Oil and gas exports constitute most of the government revenue as of previous years. Iran is the world's fourth largest producer, and fifth largest exporter of crude oil.

According to BP, the proven oil reserves in Iran amounted to 137.6 billion barrels as of Jan. 1, 2011, while gas reserves in Iran hit 29.61 trillion cubic meters in 2010 (it ranks second in the world after Russia) . However, only small part of gas reserves is exported, because major part of the country's natural produ ction is consumed in the country.

The country's central bank announced that Iran's inflation rate reach ed 10.8 per cent in February 2011 from 10.1 per cent a month earlier.

According to official statistics, the unemployment level in Iran is 13.2 percent. The figure includes persons working one hour per week, servicemen, housewives and students. But Seyed Mohammadali Mousavi, a member of the Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Social Affairs, said that the real level of unemployment in Iran is two times greater than the officially announced figures.

However, last week Ahmadinejad said that 1.6 million new jobs had been created from March 21, 2010 so far and unemployment rate is 9-10 percent.

According to Sullivan, instead of increasing the budget, the rough-edged rulers should realize that many of the people in Iran want a real democracy and the brutal suppression of reasonable dissent to stop.

"No budget will solve this," he said on his own. "It will take a complete rethink of methods of leading, and I doubt the leaders in charge now have the ability to do that."

On 14 February, thousands of demonstrators came out in Tehran and other major Iranian cities - Isfahan, Shiraz, Kermanshah, and Gilan province. Organizers called a rally in solidarity with protestors in Egypt and Tunisia. However, Iranian security forces suppressed demonstrations across the country, reportedly attacking crowds with tear gas, paint bullets, sticks, electric batons and live ammunition. There were reports about several killed demonstrators.

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