Ahmadinejad unveils wider Iran budget

TEHRAN: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday presented parliament an annual budget which puts expenditure 23.6 percent higher than in the current financial year, Mehr news agency reported.

The budget for the year to March 2011 was valued at 368.4 billion dollars based on an oil price of 60 dollars a barrel, compared with 298 billion dollars for the current year, it said.

Ahmadinejad's presentation of the new fiscal plan was broadcast live on state-television, but he did not reveal any income or expenditure figures.

Rahim Mombini, a government official involving in planning the budget, said that the details of the fiscal plan will be revealed on Tuesday, Mehr reported.

Without quoting sources, Mehr and ISNA news agencies reported the overall budget was 368.4 billion dollars, 30 percent of which would be allocated to construction projects.

Mehr said the budget had taken into account an oil price of 60 dollars a barrel for the said period, compared with an average of 37.5 dollars in the year to March 2010.

Iran earns 80 percent of its total revenues from oil exports.

Economists have strongly criticised Ahmadinejad for policies they say have created a highly inflationary economy since his first term began in 2005.

Next year's budget is also marked by the start of a major plan to scrap costly subsidies on energy and goods, in turn reducing government expenditure.

Iranian lawmakers have approved Ahmadinejad's plan to scrap the subsidies which directly and indirectly cost the government as much as 100 billion dollars a year.

Removing the subsidies will happen gradually, with the process due to conclude by the end of the country's fifth five-year development plan in March 2015.