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Iraqi Government Approves $67 Billion Budget For 2009

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- The Iraqi cabinet has approved a $67 billion budget for 2009, after revising its spending plans downward as a result of falling oil prices.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the 79 trillion Iraqi dinar budget would be sent to parliament for ratification. It includes 17 trillion dinars of investment, he said in a statement.

The government had announced last month it was cutting its spending plans from a forecast $80 billion to $67 billion in light of falling oil prices.

Iraqi officials have said the revised budget would assume an oil price of $62 a barrel, while their earlier projections were based on an assumption that prices would average $80.

Iraq earns nearly all of its government revenue from oil exports, which have averaged between 1.6 and 2 million barrels per day over the course of this year. International oil prices have fallen by more than half from their highs of $147 a barrel in July because of slumping world demand.

The country has a huge demand for investment to rebuild infrastructure wrecked by decades of war and economic sanctions, and has been criticized by some in Washington for being slow to spend the income it earned during the oil boom.