Rouhani's New Iran Budget Focuses on Creating Jobs

(Bloomberg) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani submitted a $337 billion draft budget to parliament that earmarks about $100 billion for public service programs that would create jobs, address a banking crisis and introduce a new social security program.

Rouhani told lawmakers that the budget was based on oil prices forecast at $55 a barrel, according to an advance text of the speech, delivered on state TV. He said banks need to “withdraw from business dealings” and return to traditional lending services, and pledged more than $3 billion to shore up the sector, which has been beset by bad loans and unauthorized credit lenders.

The draft, which is to be debated, revised and approved by lawmakers, is for the new Iranian year starting March 21. It introduces significant increases to various fees and duties including car registration and the departure tax.

Rouhani said Iran would continue to abide by its nuclear deal with world powers and “will not be the first to violate” the accord, which President Donald Trump refused to certify in October, asking lawmakers to toughen it through legislation. The multiparty agreement, which came into effect early 2016, has helped to bring Iran “tens of billions of dollars” of credit lines from Asian and European banks to Iran, he said.

Rouhani said next year’s budget will address unemployment and seek to bring all poor families to a minimum standard of living through a new social security program.

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