President Ebrahim Raeisi says Iran is no longer worried about its oil sales which are twice as much oil as when he took office in August, despite heavy sanctions imposed by the US.
"With the 13th government in power, oil sales have doubled and there is no longer any concern about oil sales,” Raeisi said in a live interview with national broadcaster IRIB late Monday.
According to Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji, Iran's oil exports have risen under the toughest sanctions without waiting for the outcome of the currently stalled Vienna talks to remove them.
The increase is down to different methods used to win contracts and finding different buyers. Owji has said Iran “took oil to the places the Americans cannot even think of."
Officials have also rejected claims that the Biden administration had eased the pressure of sanctions on Iran amid the Vienna talks and rising prices, saying that on the contrary, the US has grown more aggressive.
“Not only has the enemy not eased its sanctions, but it has also made them worse by going after Iranian ships and trying to capture our ships in order to prevent a jump in Iran’s oil exports,” Owji said in March.
Mohsen Khojastehmehr, the CEO of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said then that Iran’s crude oil exports have surged 40% and gas condensate sales have grown 250% since August when the new administration came to office.
The surge in exports has coincided with oil prices having shot to multi-year highs, providing a vital boost for Iran's public finances. On Monday, Brent was trading over $105 a barrel.
The government has drawn up the fiscal plan for this Iranian year on the assumption that the US sanctions would persist. It envisages at least $30 billion in oil export revenues for the government.
The state budget aims for 8% economic growth and increased crude oil sales of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) at $60 despite continued US sanctions.
The annual state budget of 36,310 trillion rials (about 116 billion euros at the free market rate) is 26% more than last year’s budget.
The government has set stepped-up trade with neighbors and increased exports the centerpiece of its economic policies.
President Raeisi said on Monday foreign trade has touched the $100-billion milestone which is "a completely different figure from the past".
He also said initial concerns about the strategic stocks of essential consumer goods have eased.
"Today, I assure the people that we do not have a problem with the stocks of basic goods, and that the government has taken all measures to ensure that there is no problem with the livelihood of the people," he said.
The Iranian consumer staples sector has occasionally witnessed some shortages of grocery products.
Prices across the globe have jumped at the pump and in grocery stores following first the global coronavirus pandemic, and then supply chain issues and spiking inflation. But, the challenge posed by the Ukraine crisis to the global food market has prompted many countries around the world to work through contingency plans to maintain food security.
"Today, concerns about protecting the lives of the people against the outbreak of the coronavirus, stocks of basic goods, foreign exchange, foreign trade as well as oil sales have been resolved to an acceptable extent," Raeisi said.
He said the government seeks to reform the subsidy program for basic goods and phase out an "unfair" allocation of funds and distribution of foreign exchange at concessionary rates.
"From the very first days of the government, almost all economists and experts warned us that we should think of a solution to the serious problems of the country.”
Raeisi touched on the reopening of businesses and schools after a successful vaccination campaign, saying that "today, in addition to importing vaccines, we also have a very high capacity to produce vaccines in the country and even export them.”
The president said his government's measures have brought down the number of daily deaths from the coronavirus pandemic to 7 from as high as 700.