By AMIR VAHDAT, Associated Press

Apr. 19, 2016 2:14 PM ET

(AP) — Iran’s parliament approved a $97 billion budget for the current year, the official IRNA news agency reported Tuesday.

The figure — compared to the budget the previous year, which was $72 billion — reflects Iran’s hopes for its economy following a landmark nuclear deal with the world powers. The report said the new budget assumes an average oil price $40 a barrel and exports of 2.25 million barrels per day.

Iran says it has increased its crude export to 2.1 million barrels per day, almost double the production levels before the nuclear deal went into effect in January. The deal resulted in the lifting of international sanctions and the resumption of Iranian oil exports.

The bill needs ratification by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog, to become law. According to media reports, the bill has a five percent increase for the defense budget, though there were no details.

Based on the bill, the official exchange rate would be 29,970 rials to the dollar. The rial is currently 34,550 to the dollar on the open market.

The bill separately budgets some $197 billion for hundreds of government companies and banks.

As last year, the bill also requires government to cut cash handouts to Iranians who have made more than $10,000 in annual income. In 2015, that affected 3.3 million Iranians. The government says there are around 7 million people who would fall into this category, less than 10 percent of Iran’s 80 million-strong population.

Some 25 percent of the country’s budget comes from exporting oil. Iran is home to the world’s fourth-largest proven reserve of crude oil and ranks second in proven natural gas reserves behind Russia.


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