Iran counting on surging oil prices to stabilise economy
NICOSIA, April 26 (AFP) - Iran is counting on resurgent oil prices
to make up for last fiscal year's budget shortfall and straighten out its
hobbling economy, the specialist Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) said
"Our budget for (1999-2000) is based on an oil price assumption
of 11.80 dollars per barrel," Iranian central bank governor Mohsen
Nourbakhsh told MEES.
"With a price of 14 dollars per barrel (its current value), we
think we will be able not only to offset the shortage last year but also
earn a surplus," he said.
Nourbakhsh pointed out that the budget for the previous fiscal year,
which ended last month, was originally based on a price of 16 dollars per
barrel. But a slump on the worldwide market drove prices to record lows,
leaving Iran with a budget shortfall of some 6.3 billion dollars.
The slump also meant Iran was obliged to reschedule debt, but Nourbakhsh
told MEES that Tehran would not have to resort to such a step again.
"The only problem was with the maturity and the structure of the
debt and we think we have now passed this critical period of low oil prices,"
He added that Iran is still awaiting settlment at the international
court at the Hague over its claim that 12 billion dollars in assets remain
frozen by the United States after the two nations broke off diplomatic
ties in 1980.
"The improved political atmosphere between Iran and the US could
play a crucial role in finding a way to settle that dispute.
"But at present we do not see any positive signs from the US with
regard to releasing the money, so it has to be settled in the court."