Iran’s parliament rejects Rouhani’s anti-subsidy budget

Al-Monitor- When President Hassan Rouhani presented his administration’s budget proposal on Dec. 10, he gave a controversial speech on the parliament floor about corruption, which many observers believe played a contributing factor to the protests that rocked Iran. While Rouhani may have hoped the speech would garner public support for his economic plan after parliament rejected his general budget proposal for 2018-2019, it seems that the speech may actually backfire, causing the president to retreat on economic reforms, particularly those targeting subsidies.

Of the lawmakers that were present, 120 voted against the budget bill and 83 voted in favor. A joint commission will revise the budget outline. Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani gave the commission 72 hours to introduce a revised budget.

The parliamentarians objected to the budget’s proposal on eliminating cash handouts for 33 million Iranians, reducing gasoline subsidies, tax exemptions for low-wage earners and the “lack of attention for the livelihood of teachers.” Regarding the plan to eliminate 33 million Iranians from the cash subsidy payments, parliamentarian Mehrdad Lahooti, a member of the joint commission reviewing the budget, said that the mechanism to eliminate the cash handouts was not explained and this could have “negative consequences for the country.”

The parliamentarians who voted against the budget had expressed hope that the revised bill by the joint commission would address “employment, absolute poverty and resolving economic problems.”

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