A conservative-led Iranian oversight council has rejected next year's budget despite its approval by the reform-majority parliament, legislative sources said Sunday.
The rejection means the political row over the budget for the Iranian year beginning in March will be adjudicated by the powerful Expediency Council for the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
Sources said the Guardians Council, which ensures all new legislation conforms both to the constitution and Islamic law, had rejected several measures in what conservatives have charged is a "political" budget.
Parliament had included provisions to cut funding for several institutions either dominated by conservatives or under the direct control of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Expediency Council, headed by former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, arbitrates in all disputes between the Guardians Council and parliament.
The budget is the last of President Mohammad Khatami's four-year term in office. He has not yet formally announced whether he will stand for re-election in June.
The Guardians Council rejected as either unconstitutional or un-Islamic several items in the bill, including a budget cut for state television and radio, which reformists charge have undermined the reform movement.
It also rejected a plan to fund political parties as well as monies for political, cultural and social activities of the nation's religious minorities. — (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )