EghtesadOnline: Secrecy is a hard habit to ditch for governments. But at least it is becoming clearer that the executive branch of the Iranian government, when compared with other branches, is determined to take significant steps toward openness.
The information provided and published on the website of the Ministry of Economic and Finance Affairs on budget expenditure and payments to ministries and public offices can help citizens, among other things, demand different spending priorities and, probably, ensure a more responsive system of governance.
Treasury’s payments from May 22 to July 2 show two bankrupt pension funds, namely the Civil Servants Pension Fund and the Armed Forces Pension Fund, were the top receivers of government budget. It is also important to note that the Iranian Health Insurance Organization (IHIO Salamat) is among the top budget spenders, the Health Ministry received the most money in the Iranian month ending June 21 and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and seminaries had the largest budget among cultural institutions last month, the Persian daily Shargh reported.
The list published on the Economy Ministry's website includes operating expenses, direct subsidies and “inevitable expenditures of agencies”, excluding their personnel’s salaries, according to Financial Tribune.
Treasury’s public expenditure payments were opened to public view on Mefa.ir in late April.
Following President Hassan Rouhani's call for safeguarding citizens’ rights, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance unveiled a section titled “Report of Treasury Payments” on its official website in which information about payments made by the treasury are accessible “and will be continuously updated”, IRNA quoted Deputy Economy Minister Rahmatollah Akrami as saying at the time.
The new feature was made available as of April 21, the same day Rouhani reminded the authorities of their duty to respect citizens’ rights, including the right to information through communications tools in a wide-ranging speech.
> Civil Servants Pension Fund
The Civil Servants Pension Fund is the country’s second biggest pension fund and the largest bankrupt Iranian pension fund. Its reliance on the public budget is more than 70%. The government is required by the Budget Law of the current fiscal (March 2018-19) to allocate more than 300 trillion rials ($7.14 billion) to the fund.
The pension fund, which has gone belly up for years now, received 27.16 trillion rials ($646.82 million) from government coffers during the period under review, the largest expenditure made last month.
Since the beginning of the current fiscal (March 21) until July 2, the government has paid a total of 75.96 trillion rials ($1.8 billion) or nearly one-fourth of the total ratified budgetary allocation to CSPF.
> Armed Forces Pension Fund
The second top budget receiver during the period was the Armed Forces Pension Fund. The Budget Law has envisioned 232.51 trillion rials ($5.53 billion) for AFPF in the current fiscal and has paid a total of 64.13 trillion rials ($1.52 billion) since the beginning of the year until July 2 to this pension fund.
> Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs
The Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs receives its funding directly from the national budget to provide financial support for more than 500,000 disabled veterans, 220,000 of the families of martyrs and 50,000 liberated prisoners of Iran-Iraq War (1980-88).
The foundation is also involved in a wide range of economic endeavors, much like the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation. It received 11.89 trillion rials ($283.12 million) from May 22 to July 2.
Since the beginning of the year until July 2, the foundation has received 28.69 trillion rials ($683.16 million), which is one-fourth of the total budget it expects to receive during the year.
> Iranian Health Insurance Organization
The next biggest budget spender was the Iranian Health Insurance Organization (IHIO Salamat) that received a total of 8.75 trillion rials ($208.33 million) during the period from the government.
After taking office in the summer of 2013, President Hassan Rouhani's administration vowed to streamline medical costs and boost the efficiency of medical insurance services.
IHIO Salamat, formed by aggregating different offices of healthcare insurance and insurance funds in the fiscal 2012-13, is tasked with offering a basic health insurance plan to all Iranian population.
The Budget Law requires the government to pay a total of 110 trillion rials ($2.61 billion) to IHIO Salamat this year, out of which 24.8 trillion rials ($590.47 million) have been paid so far.
> Ministry of Health and Medical Education
The Health Ministry, in collaboration with IHIO Salamat, has received funds from the annual governmental budget to cover the expenditures of treating diseases, such as cancer, hemophilia, dialysis, MS, joints replacement, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
From May 22 to July 2, the ministry has received 7.51 trillion rials ($178.86 million) from the country’s budget. The sum does not include the budget the government allocates for medicines, vaccines, blood bags and baby formula subsidies as well as the money paid to the project named “Implementation of Population Policies”.
Since March 21, the government has paid 1.05 trillion rials ($25.14 million) to drug and baby formula subsidies and 873 billion rials ($20.78 million) for the implementation of population policies.
> Ministry of Economic and Finance Affairs
The Economy Ministry has received 7.32 trillion rials ($174.41 million) from May 22 to July 2 and a total of 12.11 trillion rials ($288.39 million) since the beginning of the year until July 2. The payments do not include personnel’s salaries.
> Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare
Despite having the largest ratified budget in the current Budget Law among all ministries, the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare was the sixth biggest budget receiver last month. It received a total of 7.27 trillion rials ($173.23 million) from the country’s budget during the period under review.
> Ministry of Agricultural Jihad
The Ministry of Agricultural Jihad was the next biggest budget receiver with a total of 5.89 trillion rials ($140.44 million). A fraction of this budget pertains to the government’s direct subsidies to the agriculture sector.
> Imam Khomeini Relief Committee
The Imam Khomeini Relief Committee is an Iranian charitable organization, founded in March 1979, few months after the Islamic Revolution, to support poor families. The committee provides multiple forms of support for 1.51 million households. It was the ninth largest budget receiver from May 22 to July 2 with 3.51 trillion rials ($83.72 million).
> Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting received 3.17 trillion rials ($75.66 million) from the budget. IRIB’s ratified budget for the current fiscal is 16 trillion rials. On top of this figure, IRIB will also receive $100 million from the National Development Fund of Iran this year.
> Ministry of Education
Excluding the salary of personnel, the Ministry of Education received 2.23 trillion rials ($53.11 million) from May 22 to July 2.
Notably, the government spent 1.82 trillion ($43.53 million) on reducing medicine prices, vaccines, blood bags and baby formula during the period under review.