Iran’s first vice president calls on people to withdraw from receiving cash subsidies

Baku, Azerbaijan, Mar.30

By Fatih Karimov - Trend:

Iran's first vice president Es'haq Jahangiri has called on people to withdraw from receiving cash subsidies in order to help the government provide more assistance to needy families, the Fars News Agency reported on March 30.

Based on statistics, 77.384 million Iranian people received cash subsidies in the 11th month of the past Iranian calendar year (January 21-February 19), he said, adding that the number is more than the country's population.

"We believe that the government should increase the amount of cash subsidy paid to needy families. So, we urge other families to withdraw from receiving subsidies voluntarily."

Mohsen Bahrami Arzi, an advisor to the vice president for executive affairs, said on January 28 that the government expects 30 per cent of Iranian families to give up receiving cash subsidies.

"Currently the number of people who receive them is even more than the country's population," he said.

"Many have migrated to foreign countries, but they still receive cash subsidies, some have two or more ID cards and some are foreign nationals," Bahrami Arzi explained.

President Rouhani's Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian, said in November 2013 that the Iranian administration is not going to cut the cash subsidies of rich families since identifying such families is a breach of their privacy.

This is while the budget and planning committee of the Iranian parliament (Majlis) on October 20, 2013, approved stopping 30 percent of cash subsidy payments.

Iran's Ministry of Economy will distribute special forms to identify people who voluntarily give up receipt of cash subsidies.

Economy minister Ali Tayyebnia said cash subsidies will be paid only to the needy families. So, special self-declaration forms will be distributed among the people to announce whether they are eligible to receive cash subsidies, he added.

The Iranian government implemented the first stage of the subsidy reform plan towards the end of 2010 in an attempt to wean the country off food and fuel subsidies. At the time, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called it the 'biggest economic plan of the past 50 years'.

The plan allows the government to gradually slash subsidies on fuel, electricity and certain goods over the course of five years, with low-income families being compensated with direct cash hand-outs.

The subsidy reform plan pays 45,500 rials (about $18) to Iranians, eliminating subsidies for fuels and some commodities.

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