Iran's central bank says $9.5 billion in foreign currency has been appropriated for importing medicines and essential goods for the current Iranian year.

Shiva Raveshi, the head of currency operation at the central bank said Friday that $8 billion was appropriated for regular essential imports per Iran’s current budgetary projection and $1.5 billion for Covid needs.

She added that in the past Iranian year (March 21, 2020-March 20, 2021) a similar amount was spent on these imports but this year the hard currency has already been appropriated. She added that the government is using incentives to encourage exporters to bring back their hard currency earnings to the country.

Under tough US sanctions Iran has lost most of its oil export income and has resorted to belt-tightening and spending its hard currency reserves, which are estimated to have declined to around $30 billion from more than $100 billion before its sanctions kicked in in 2018.

Iran’s battered currency rial has declined to its lowest point in the past 12 months, trading at more than 280,000 rials to the US dollar on Saturday. This constitutes a 20 percent decline since May.

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