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Iran plans second round of cash handouts to 23 mln households

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)
Iranians walk past shops in the capital Tehran on May 26, 2020. (AFP photo)

The Iranian government is planning a second cash handout of 10 million rials (nearly $50) for around 23 million households amid efforts to ease the economic impacts of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the semi-official Fars news agency on Saturday, a source confirmed the government decision to provide a second round of cash handouts more than two months after a first round was offered to over 21 million households.

The handouts will reach Iranians who are on a government payroll for monthly benefits of just more than $2, said the source, adding that a small portion of the monthly benefits would be used to reimburse the interest-free loan in two years.

Heads of households were notified of the fresh handouts earlier on Saturday when a text message was sent to their mobile phones urging them to confirm their request for the aid.

A first round of the handouts had cost the government more than 21 trillion rials (nearly $1.6 billion at the then exchange rate of the rial against the US dollar).

However, there was no official confirmation by the administrative government of President Hassan Rouhani over the plan for fresh cash handouts.

Rouhani’s government has provided billions of dollars in rescue for businesses, workers and ordinary people affected by the spread of the COVID-19, the disease caused by the pandemic, in Iran.

Businesses who have avoided layoffs of workers during the pandemic have been offered with around $5 billion cheap loans.

Workers most affected by the pandemic-related closures, including those in leisure and tourism sector, have received 20 million rials in loans and around 10 million rials in direct cash support.

To fund the rescue measures which also cover jobless claims for hundreds of thousands of workers, the Iranian government has been forced to tap into the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

That is in addition to billions disbursed to Iran’s health sector and insurers to help them cope with the spread of the pandemic.

Iranian health ministry said on Saturday that the total number of people affected by COVID-19 in the country had reached 220,180 of whom 10,364 people had died.

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