Iran says fuel price hike cut daily consumption by a fifth

Bloomberg – Daily consumption of gasoline in Iran has dropped by about a fifth following the government’s decision to hike prices and introduce rationing, according to officials.

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said demand fell by 20 million liters a day, while National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Co. said consumption had dropped from an average daily rate of 98 million liters since March 20 to 79 million liters.

Iran this month cut back on expensive gasoline subsidies with its economy struggling under the weight of crippling U.S. sanctions. Prices rose by as much as 300%, triggering a wave of nationwide protests that soon took an anti-establishment turn. The state responded with a swift crackdown that, according to Amnesty International, left at least 143 people dead and more than 1,000 in detention. Officials put the death toll much lower.

Authorities argued the move was necessary to cut back on consumption and generate revenue, but detractors are skeptical the measure will benefit the poor or middle class.