Friday, March 6, 2009

Iraqi Parliament approves 2009 budget - Middle East Times

The Iraqi Parliament on Thursday accepted a budget for 2009 that was slashed by an estimated $4.3 billion amid declining oil revenue.

Under First Deputy Speaker Khaled Attiya, Parliament voted in favor of the amended budget for 2009 following a series of setbacks, the Voices of Iraq news agency reports.

Iraq had cut its budget twice from an estimated $80 billion to $62 billion as oil prices gave back more than $100 from the July highs of more than $147 per barrel.

The accepted budget is based on an average price of $50 per barrel of crude oil, which some lawmakers see as an aggressive forecast as prices have held steady near $40 per barrel since September.

Sami al-Atrushi with the Finance Committee in Parliament said lawmakers focused on options ranging from a 10 percent reduction in the overall budget to a 10 percent cut in government spending.

Meanwhile, the provincial council in Basra convened Thursday to examine the economic prospects in the bustling port region.

"The conference aims to exchange visions on Basra's economic future following local elections and the remarkable security improvement," provincial spokesman Rasheed al-Fahd said.

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