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Iran development projects not getting state funds: paper

TEHRAN, Aug 8 (AFP) - Some 30,000 major development projects in Iran risk being abandoned because state banks have failed to allocate the necessary funds, a conservative newspaper said here Sunday.

"Of these about 9,000 are industrial projects that were only launched with great difficulty and have not been followed up on," the Abrar daily said, adding that Iran 's state-run banks remain unwilling to fund the projects.

"Taking inflation into account, an investment of billions of dollars is needed to complete them," it said.

It did not give a precise breakdown of the kinds of projects but said they included virtually all important fields of development, including transportation, utilities, heavy industry and other infrastructure sectors.

The paper lashed out over projects it said never got beyond "a ribbon-cutting ceremony or an inaugural scoop of the shovel."

But Parviz Ahmadi, managing director of the Refah Bank, said that since the 1979 Islamic revolution Iran 's banks were paying greater attention to where their investments were going.

"Now bank credits are paid to those projects which generate employment. Before the revolution banks did not care about where the money went or whether it created jobs," he said, quoted in the English-language Iran News.

MPs and the press have in recent months been stressing the need to complete thousands of development projects begun under former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani but never completed.

Curent President Mohammad Khatami has tried to attract some eight billion dollars in new investments to revitalise Iran 's stumbling economy, which was hard-hit by the recent slump in oil prices.

The Islamic republic has also been hampered by Washington's unilateral sanctions which have kept US oil firms from participating in Iran 's petroleum sector.

Oil accounts for roughly 80 percent of Iran 's hard-currency earnings and about half of total state revU


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