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Iran’s next year budget envisages massive cut in popular cash handouts

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani delivering a speech at the Parliament. (Photo by IRNA)

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday presented the budget bill for the next Iranian year that begins on March 21, 2018 to the Parliament with reports emerging that certain dramatic changes to a multiple-year costly subsidy reforms plan could already be on the way.

Rouhani’s proposed budget bill – in which he said creating jobs, eradicating poverty and creating social justice were central themes – would envisage a total spending of around Rials 1.19 quadrillion or $33.6 billion with each dollar at Rials 35,434 as announced on Sunday by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). 

The figure for the current year’s budget bill – when presented to the MPs almost the same time last year – remained almost unchanged and stood at Rials 1.08 quadrillion or $33.8 billion with each dollar at Rials 32,150 as announced by the CBI on the day of Rouhani’s appearance at the Parliament.

MASSIVE CUT IN CASH HANDOUTS 

Iran’s media reported that the president’s proposed next year budget bill envisaged a massive cut in cash handouts as carried out through the Subsidies Reform Plan in place since 2010.

ISNA news agency in a report announced that the government’s budget to support monthly cash handouts would be almost slashed into half from the current Rials 420 trillion ($11.8 billion) to around Rials 230 trillion ($6.4 billion) for next year.   

That could mean that almost half of a population of 77 million that receive monthly cash handouts of Rials 455,000 ($12.8) would receive nothing in the next Iranian year, ISNA added.  

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says creating jobs, eradicating poverty and creating social justice are central themes in Iran's next year budget.  

The president announced in his remarks to the MPs that the mechanism to distribute cash handouts as per the Subsidies Reform Plan would change next year.

He said the Subsidy Reform Organization – that had been in charge of the subsidy reforms technicalities since the plan’s implementation – would change into a new entity named Omid Social Welfare Fund (OSWF).

He said his government would define a standard for minimum earning based on which those eligible to receive cash handouts would be identified and would be accordingly be put under the protection of the OSWF.   

The Iranian Parliament would debate over Rouhani’s budget bill over the next 40 days before approving it. 


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