Friday, September 17, 2010

Jannati Cautions Government on Subsidy Reforms

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the chairman of the Guardian Council, warned Iranians today to expect hardship when the government slashes food and fuel subsidies. Ayatollah Janati is a hardline fundamentalist and a staunch supporter of President Ahmadinejad. He made the remarks on the government’s economic plans during his sermon at today’s Friday’s Prayer in Tehran.

"We will have a period of hardship ahead of us," Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said. "The government should be careful to minimize the tensions and negative effects on poor people." [IRIB News, 17 September].

The government’s subsidy reforms would dramatically raise the price for gasoline, food and other essential goods. The Iranian governments in the past, including the governments in the shah’s era, have heavily subsidized the essential goods, a program that is estimated today to cost the government more than $100 billion a year. Ahmadinejad’s reform package would significantly slash these subsidies. The planned reforms would also include provisions for monthly cash payments to the poor.

The reforms were to start on 21 September, but due to disagreements with the Majlis, the start date has been postponed and new dates have been announced. But observers expect the reform package to go into effect within the next eight weeks.

For a full report on Jannati’s sermon, in Farsi, please see:

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