Iran now has $10 billion in its Oil Stabilisation Fund, which forms part of its foreign reserves, Central Bank governor Tahmasb Mazaheri said, indicating an increase on previously reported figures.
The fund was set up several years ago to save windfall oil earnings at times like now when crude prices have surged to record levels, so that the extra cash could be used if crude prices fall perilously low or to finance investment projects.
“We announce the amount of the fund every three months, and based on the last week for which we have statistics, it is $10 billion,” Mazaheri was quoted by the daily newspaper Iran as saying, Reuters said.
The governor had said in October the fund held $9.56 billion, but in December a report on the bank’s website, also quoting Mazaheri, said the fund held $8 billion. Reuters said the reason for the drop and the rise again to $10 billion was not clear.
Some lawmakers have accused the Iranian government of dipping into the fund to finance current spending even with high oil prices and complain that the fund’s value should have risen faster given climbing revenues.
Iran does not usually release figures for total foreign reserves, but Economy Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari told the official IRNA news agency at the start of January that foreign exchange reserves amounted to $60 billion.
An Iranian oil official said on Monday that Iran was aiming to earn about $70 billion in oil export revenues by March, after making about $35 billion in the first half of the Iranian year.
The Central Bank has said it is diversifying its reserves away from US dollars, in response to sanctions imposed on Iranian financial institutions as part of Washington’s bid to pressure Iran over its nuclear ambitions.