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Iran's Parliament starts debating national budget

TEHRAN, March 3 (Mehr News Agency) - The parliament (Majlis) started debating the national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year (starts March 21) here on Saturday. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad presented the national budget bill to the Majlis on January 21.

Some MPs praised the bill, saying that it plans to decrease reliance on oil revenues, sell off state-run companies, increase the salaries of government employees based on 13.5 percent inflation, and rein in inflation.

They also stated that the bill pays special attention to underprivileged people, development projects, strategic storage of essential drugs, and the allocation of sufficient funds for the marriage, housing, and employment of young couples.

It also plans to increase the price of cigarettes and carbonated beverages, the lawmakers said.

The president is asking the Majlis to approve a national budget of 2,290 trillion rials (about $248 billion), which is a 19.6 percent rise compared to the current year's budget, which stands at 1,910 trillion rials.

MPs opposing the bill said that it will cause an increase in government holdings and a 22 percent growth in funding for state-run companies.

They also maintained that it does not pay sufficient attention to research.

The MPs also predicted that the inflation rate will be 17 percent and the liquidity rate will reach 40 percent, compelling the government to present three or four bills to parliament in the form of budget amendments to make up for the budget deficit.

The parliamentarians also said the Ahmadinejad administration lacks the experience to draft a budget bill.

... Payvand News - 3/3/07 ... --

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