Iraqi official urges austerity measures

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's finance minister is urging government departments to cut down on expenses to offset the effects of the drop in world oil prices.

Last month, the Iraqi government adopted a revised 2009 budget of $68.6 billion. The original budget for next year was $79 billion. Revenues are based on an oil price of $62.50 per barrel, down from an original estimate of $80.

Finance Minister Bayan Jabr says in a statement Friday that the Finance Ministry will review the budget in early 2009 and order austerity measures if necessary to make up for the revenue shortfall.

Iraq is dependent on oil revenues for more than 90 percent of its budget. On Friday, oil prices fell below $45 a barrel - down from more than $140 a barrel in July.

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