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Iran’s new budget chief warns of deficit in current fiscal year

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Photo shows Massoud Mirkazemi speaking in a ceremony to mark the beginning of his term as the new head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization (PBO) on August 14, 2021.

Iran’s new budget chief has warned that the balances set for the current fiscal year are not healthy, saying he will increase controls on government spending while trying to prevent more debt issuance.

Massoud Mirkazemi, announced as the new head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization (PBO) on Saturday, said that government expenditures are expected to top 12,770 trillion rials (over $50 billion) in the current calendar year to March 20, 2022.

Mirkazemi said the figure would be an increase of nearly 130% against the fiscal year to March 2021 and 36% higher than the cap set for expenses in the current year’s budget law.

Speaking in a ceremony to mark the beginning of his term as PBO chief, Mirkazemi criticized the rising trend seen in government expenditures in recent years at a time Iran has been grappling with financial problems because of US sanctions and other economic woes.

“That has come as sanctions have increased, this cannot continue ... Where will this end?” he said as he added that annual budget had increased 10-fold in as many years to over 9,000 trillion rials this calendar year.

Mirkazemi takes over as PBO chief replacing Mohammad Bagher Nobakht who served in the role for eight years under former president Hassan Rouhani.

The conservative politician was a major economic figure in the government of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2010s when he served a full four-year term as commerce minister before he became oil minister in 2009.

He becomes the third man directly appointed by President Ebrahim Raeisi since the new government was sworn in earlier this month.

Raeisi on Tuesday also announced a Cabinet for the approval of the Iranian parliament.

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