Iran's Larijani calls for inquiry into $1 bln oil income

Iran's parliament speaker has called for further investigations following a report by the national audit office that $1 billion in surplus oil income had not arrived in the treasury, newspaper reported.

Iran's Larijani calls for inquiry into $1 bln oil income

Iran's parliament speaker has called for further investigations following a report by the national audit office that $1 billion in surplus oil income had not arrived in the treasury, newspapers reported on Thursday.

In a potentially embarrassing development for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before a June election, the audit report cited by local media said $1.058 billion in oil revenue in the 2006-07 budget year had not been transferred to the treasury.

An Ahmadinejad aide told Reuters there was a possible "misunderstanding" and that the issue should be reviewed to see whether it was correct or not.

The report by the national audit office, which is headed by a former interior minister who was replaced by Ahmadinejad last year, was submitted to parliament's budget commission and read out in the legislature on Wednesday.

"In the energy section of this report it has been mentioned that $1 billion of extra oil income has not been returned to the country's public treasury," speaker Ali Larijani was quoted as saying by the Sarmayeh newspaper.

"The national audit office should seriously follow up the cases where there have been deviations from the implementation of the law or non-implementation of the law," said Larijani, a conservative who has often criticised government policy.

By extra oil income, Larijani was referring to additional revenue that Iran received because market oil prices exceeded the level the budget was based on.

Asked to comment on the media report also carried by other newspapers, close Ahmadinejad aide Aliakbar Javanfekr said:

"Relevant organisations should review this issue to see whether it is correct or not because it is possible that there is a misunderstanding."

Presidency race

Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005 pledging to share out Iran's oil wealth more fairly and to clamp down on corruption in the energy sector. He is planning to stand for a second four-year term in the June presidential election.

Reformists accuse his government of squandering an oil revenue windfall when crude prices were soaring and leaving public finances vulnerable in times like now when they tumble.

Rapidly rising consumption of oil from emerging economies led by China helped push crude from around $20 a barrel at the start of 2002 to a peak above $147 in July 2008, but the price has since plunged by 70 percent on the global economic downturn.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, earned about $70 billion from crude export sales in the 2007-08 year.

Ahmadinejad is expected to face former President Mohammad Khatami, a leading reformist, in the presidency race.

Sarmayeh said Larijani asked parliament's budget commission to use the audit report when reviewing the 2009-10 budget bill and to find solutions that would prevent a repeat in future.

Reuters
Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 17:24
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