Ahmadinejad: Direct Subsidy Plan Set to Begin

A04108399.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Wednesday that the implementation of the economic reform plan would begin soon.

In the plan, subsidies will be paid directly to citizens.

“With the presentation of the bill on the economic reform plan to the Parliament and with its ratification by the representatives, we hope we will witness a very quick implementation” of the plan to pay cash subsidies, the president told well-wishers in Bojnurd, North Khorassan Province.

He said the reform plan was formulated within the framework of Article 44 of the Constitution.

“The administration, as your servants, has drawn up the economic reform plan within the framework of Article 44 and the system’s policies so that it can make some reforms in the major economic affairs of the country,” he noted.

The president also stated that his administration has prepared a plan for reforming banking, customs and subsidies, which he said is in fact the “second phase” of the economic reform plan.

In the first phase of the reform plan, data from citizens and families was gathered, and that was completed in the beginning of October, Tehran Times reported.

In a televised address on Tuesday night, the president also elaborated on some details of the direct subsidy plan, saying the subsidies would range from 500,000 to 700,000 rials per month for each citizen.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Parliament Special Committee on the Economic Reform Plan, Gholamreza Mesbahi Moqaddam, on Wednesday criticized President Ahmadinejad for announcing the approximate amount of the subsidies which are to be given to each person.

“I do not know on what basis the president has promised to pay the money… Does the president have some money the Parliament is unaware of? Why doesn’t he pay his debt to the staff of the Education Ministry? Why doesn’t he pay his debts to the banks? Why doesn’t he pay his debts to the Central Bank?”

“If the president has some money that the Parliament is unaware of, (he should) pay his debt to the Education Ministry and the banks, and it is not possible to make payments of cash subsidies without the ratification of the Parliament,” he said.

The MP censured the administration for its hasty decision to launch the economic reform plan, saying that the parliament’s Special Committee on the Economic Reform Plan has repeatedly asked the administration to keep them informed about the process but the administration has evaded the issue.

Redirecting subsidies is the aim of the economic reform plan proposed by the president, but many experts have criticized the plan, saying it will cause the country’s already rampant inflation to rise to an even higher level. In addition, many economists say the economic policies of the Ahmadinejad administration have brought the inflation rate to its current level of 26 percent.

Mesbahi-Moqaddam stated that even the first phase of the plan was implemented without the parliament’s authorization.

MP Ahmad Tavakkoli also said that the president made a mistake by announcing the amount of the subsidies.

“I think the president made a mistake in this regard. He should not publicize decisions in such a detailed way before the Parliament has ratified them,” said Tavakkoli, who is also the director of the Parliament Research Center.

“If there is going to be a reform in the country, this reform will have various aspects. The more serious the reform, the more we need social and political unity,” he added.

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