Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (right) delivers the budget papers to Iranian parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf during a parliament session in Tehran on January 11.
The Iranian government has presented a draft budget plan for the next Persian year with a significant increase in the budget of military, security, and propaganda institutions.
According to the bill, published on January 11, the budget of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) will increase by 28 percent, while the budget for state radio and television will rise by 42 percent. The budgets of the Intelligence Ministry and the Prisons Organization also see increases of more than 50 percent each.
The draft budget for the Persian year -- which begins in March -- comes as pressure mounts on the country from U.S. sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program and with Iranians flooding the streets to protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini -- unrest marked by unprecedented shows of defiance by women and schoolgirls in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution. Iran's currency and economy have been wracked by U.S. sanctions and other punitive measures imposed since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The other signatories have labored since to salvage the agreement, but talks have failed to reach a new deal. The Iranian currency weakened to an all-time low against the U.S. dollar on December 28, with $1 worth 440,000 rials, compared to 360,000 rials a month earlier, according to the foreign-exchange site Bonbast.com. Before the beginning of the current wave of protests, the rial was valued at approximately 298,200 to the U.S. dollar. The significant increases in the budgets of military, security, and propaganda institutions comes at the expense of several other spending areas, including a plan to reduce air pollution, one of the most important problems facing the country. The government in Tehran plans to fund 12 percent of the budget with oil revenues, projecting exports of up to 1.4 million barrels a day at a maximum expected price of $85 a barrel. Reuters reported that Iran has offered a discount three times larger than Russia for oil sales to Chinese refineries in hopes of driving up overall revenues. Iran has offered August deliveries at $11 below the price of Brent crude oil, which is $8 less than the price offered by Russia to the Chinese. Following Russia's military invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, Russian oil was hit with sanctions by Western countries, forcing it to seek new markets. The weakening of the Iranian currency has been accelerated by dwindling hopes for the revival of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and global powers that had scrapped most international economic sanctions in exchange for limits to Tehran's nuclear program. Negotiations to revive the deal resumed in April but have since lagged amid Western accusations that Iran was continuing its nuclear enrichment activities.