Iran Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer-Qalibaf (L) and President Hassan Rouhani (File)

Iran’s Parliament has finally approved the outline of the Rouhani Government’s 2021-22 budget, after holding it up for more than two months.

The” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>amended budget passed 211-28. A previous budget of 8.41 trillion rials (about $32.35 billion) was rejected on February 2 and sent back for revision.

The issue took on added intensity, coming before June’s Presidential election. President Hassan Rouhani, a centrist who cannot run for a third term, has been locked in a contest for influence with the conservative Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Immediately after the Government’s submission in early December, Qalibaf led Parliamentary objections that the Government’s projections of oil exports of 2 million barrels per day — the main revenue source for the budget — was unrealistic.

Amid US sanctions, Iran’s exports have fallen up to 95% from the April 2018 level of about 2.5 million bpd. While there has been recovery, current sales are still far off the Government’s projection, with tanker trackers giving estimates ranging from 447,000 to 1.2 million bpd for last November.

The revised budget lowers the revenue base to 1.5 million bpd.

Oil Minister Claims Recovery in Iran’s Exports Despite US Sanctions — But Gives No Evidence

At the same time that they challenged the revenue projections as too optimistic, MPs demanded more social expenditure.

President Rouhani warned that the demands, and the failure to pass a budget, would further damage an economy crippled by sanctions.