Iran’s Guardian Council, a watchdog supervising legislative procedures in the country, has approved a parliament motion that orders the administrative government of President Hassan Rouhani to pay nearly $2.25 billion in direct subsidies for food and basic goods to people amid a surge in coronavirus cases that has triggered fresh restrictions on economic activity in the country.
The Fars News agency said on Wednesday that the Council had approved the Motion to Obligate the Government to Pay Basic Goods Subsidies. The motion had been proposed in the parliament in recent weeks to force the government to provide people with financial support as they struggle with the economic impacts of the pandemic.
The motion had been initially rejected by the Guardian Council mainly on the grounds that it had not clarified what financial mechanism should be used by the government to fund the large-scale aid program.
However, members of the Iranian parliament revised articles of the motion on Monday and stipulated that the government could earn nearly 580 trillion rials ($2.23 billion) from divestment of its shares in several major companies, including refineries, banks, metals holdings and automakers, to pay the direct subsidies.
Rouhani’s administration had rejected the plan due to its massive financial burden while arguing that it will introduce proper measures to mitigate the economic difficulties caused by a new round of closures over the pandemic.
The government announced on Tuesday that it will provide 100 trillion rials (nearly $390 million) in loans to 10 million households to help them through two weeks of closures that are set to begin as of November 21.
Iran has been one of the worst hit countries in the Middle East by the coronavirus with nearly 43,000 deaths and over 800,000 positive cases of the virus.
Source: Press TV