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Iran puts average oil earning at $23 a barrel

TEHRAN, May 16 (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday it had earned an average of $23 from export of each barrel of crude oil since March.

"The median revenue from crude exports has been $23 since the beginning of the ( Iranian ) year," on March 20, Central Bank Governor Mohsen Nourbakhsh told a seminar on monetary policy.

The figure is well above the $15.7 price Iran has calculated to earn from the sale of each barrel of crude in its current budget.

Under its five-year economic plan, Iran plans to save any surplus revenue in a special fund as a support to protect the economy against unpredictable drops in the price of oil, Iran 's main hard currency earner.

Nourbakhsh said this year's budget forecasts revenues of $11.5 billion from crude exports and allows the use of an additional $2 billion from the emergency fund.

The latter is to be used in various extra-curricular programmes to create more jobs, repay debts and finance welfare projects.

The governor said $5.5 billion of the projected revenue had been set aside to finance imports of "essential goods," which cover basic food items, medicine and defence purchases.

The government heavily subsidises essential goods, providing them at the preferential official rate of 1,750 to the dollar, which is nearly a fifth of market rate.

The remaining $8 billion in hard currency revenue will be traded at the floating stock market rate, which is slightly below the market price of about 8,400 rials to the dollar.

"The considerable supply of hard currency can help to stablise the national currency and ease inflation," both main concerns of the government, Nourbakhsh said.


The rial has gained some stability against major currencies due to the rise in oil prices in the past year. But it remains strongly vulnerable to shifts in the oil market.

Nourbakhsh said he saw inflation rate dropping to 15 percent this year, from about 20 percent last year.

"Our policy is to have an stable stituation and create an atmosphere where the private sector can easily work," he said.

Iran 's economic plan, launched this year, seeks an average of 8.5 percent growth in private investment to help achieve economic recovery and create 3.6 million jobs over five years.

Nourbakhsh said all economic sectors were promising growth this year, except for the agriculture, which has been hit by a severe drought for the second year in a row.

The government has already approved to import 4.5 million tonnes of wheat and the figure is likely to rise.

Jafar Mojarad, an aide to Nourbakhsh, said on the sidelines of the seminar that $16.5 billion worth of goods would be imported this year.

But Nourbakhsh said he still saw a trade surplus of about $4 billion this year, thanks to higher oil prices.

($1 = 8,200 rials at floating rate).


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