Alireza Zakani, the Head of the Iranian Majles' Research Center, said in a November 30, 2020 interview on Channel 5 (Iran) that in 2019, the Iranian Majles deliberately ratified a budget based on a false projection that Iran would sell 1.5 million barrels of oil per day at $50. He said that the government knew that Iran would be incapable of selling this much oil, and that this resulted in a budget deficit, but that the budget was passed in order to send a "serious message" to the United States that its talk and its sanctions are ineffective. He said that the 2020 budget was ratified with a similar deficit, based on a projection that Iran would sell one million barrels of oil per day.
Alireza Zakani: "In 2018, sanctions were imposed on us. After the harsh financial, banking, and oil sanctions, the [government] knew, in 2019, that it could not export 1.5 million barrels of oil [per day], but they said: 'In order to deliver a serious message to the enemy, we must [pass a budget based on exporting] 1.5 million barrels at $50 each.' They said that they knew that this [was not true], but that they were doing it deliberately, so that [the U.S.] would know that all its talk was ineffective."
Interviewer: "They were being this childish?"
Zakani: "I can't even say how..."
Interviewer: "Think for a moment..."
Zakani: "I am telling the truth."
Interviewer: "No... Maybe I'm missing something... I just think that it is very childish to know that you cannot do something, and nonetheless tell your enemy that you [can]. What, the enemy reads this written message? They can see that you cannot [sell that many barrels]."
Zakani: "It was even worst that that. They calculated [state] expenses according to this [false] projection.
"This is the truth. That was the 2019 budget."
Interviewer: "Why did the Majles ratify it?"
Zakani: "It did the wrong thing."
Interviewer: "Were you in the Majles [at the time]?"
Zakani: "No, I wasn't. In 2020, they said that there was clearly [a budget deficit]. Afterwards, they fixed this in a meeting between the heads of the three branches [of government]. The deficit was obvious. They supplemented the budget with the national development fund, and from various other places. In 2020, they authorized the budget based on a figure of [only] one million barrels [per day], and even then they knew that [Iran] couldn't export that much. They prepared the budget and the expenses based on that figure. And in 2020, what error did they make? The budget deficit."
Interviewer: "So of all the people involved, there was not one smart person who would ask: 'What are you doing to us?'"
Zakani: "I can't say there wasn't, but... I don't know, forget it..."
Interviewer: "You know what? Maybe I missed something..."
Zakani: "No, you did not miss anything."
Interviewer: "But how could [they] be so childish... Seriously?"
Zakani: "Yes. Maybe there are just a few people who are willing to tell the truth to our dear public. This is very bitter, and we have tasted the bitterness."