December 10, 2013 - 9:00am
President Hasan Rouhani has presented a draft budget for the coming Iranian fiscal year, which begins in March. It stands in stark contrast to the rosy revenue estimates and big-spending budgets of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Economists say in real terms, accounting for Iran's still-high inflation rate, the Rouhani budget is a whopping 70 percent smaller on the spending side. And despite the optimistic talk from Iran's oil minister, the budget does not assume any significant rise in oil and gas revenues. Analysts say Rouhani's clear-eyed fiscal approach is a welcome change. But it puts even more pressure on nuclear negotiators to reach a comprehensive agreement with six world powers that will lead to the lifting of oil and banking sanctions, so the private sector can begin to fill the void left by the shrinking public spending.