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Iran's new budget has Russian loan, US sanctions continuing in new year

Tehran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday proposed next year's budget of about $115 billion, including a $5 billion loan from Russia and continuation of US sanctions against the country's oil exports.

"Our budget is still based on the US maximum pressure and continuation of the US sanctions," Rouhani said Sunday in a televised speech, adding that it "doesn't have much dependence on oil." The budget assumes 500,000 b/d of oil and condensate exports generating about $10 billion, state TV reported.

US sanctions against Iran since November 2018 have slashed the country's oil exports, with production last month falling to 2.15 million b/d, its lowest since April 1988, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey.

The budget for the Iranian year starting March 20, 2020, is 4,840 trillion rials, which is $115 billion based on the central bank's conversion rate and about $38 billion in the free market. The budget assumes oil prices of about $50/b, according to local media reports. A remaining $3 billion of the $5 billion loan from Russia will be used as "investment" in the new year, Rouhani said.

"For the first time in the history, we could raise our production in South Pars gas field more than Qatar," Rouhani said, noting that in 2013 the country's production was half of Qatar. At the same time, West Karun border oil fields output has climbed to 355,000 b/d from about 70,000 b/d in 2013, he said.

Iran's economy has entered a "steep" recession, with gross domestic product seen shrinking 9.5% this year, the International Monetary Fund projected in October. GDP is seen at zero growth in 2020 and 1.1% in 2021, it said.

"We know that people's purchase power has decreased. We know that moving cash and foreign currency in exports and imports in the world comes with a lot of problems and we know that we face problems in oil exports," Rouhani said.

--Aresu Eqbali,

--Edited by Claudia Carpenter,