Lawmakers are angry at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to deliver more cash benefits to Iranian households as part of the restructuring of government subsidies without the approval of Parliament.
The administration announced that 28,000 toumans has been deposited into people’s accounts, that being the difference between the first and second phase of the cash benefits.
MPs say, however, that under this ruse, the administration locked in the second phase of cash benefits without the approval of Parliament.
The MPs claim that since the administration delivered its New Year’s Budget too late, the source of these cash benefits is not clear.
Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a member of Parliament’s Economic Commission, said the government is already running over budget for the phase-one cash benefits and it needs to determine where it will find the money to pay for the second phase.
Another MP, Elias Naderan, described the administration’s move as “illegal” and added that Ahmadinejad’s government has often committed such acts in order to force the hand of Parliament.
“In a meeting with the administration to implement the second phase of cash benefits, they were still ambiguous about the sources of these benefits; therefore, Parliament did not approve the second phase of cash benefits in the last two months of the 8th Parliament,” Naderan said.
Ahmadinejad said in an interview on state television: “If they had allowed us, we would have implemented the second phase of targeted subsidies and put 70,000 to 80,000 toumans in people’s pockets so they could go on vacation, but it did not happen, and executing the second phase was made too difficult.”
As Iranians celebrate the New Year, which is a special time of extra shopping for food, clothes and travel, reports indicate that households are feeling cash-strapped due to growing inflation.
Ahmadinejad has eliminated government subsidies on energy and food staples, which has made these products suddenly rise in price. Families have been receiving cash benefits to get them through those price hikes.
Parliament has been critical of the administration’s handling of the benefits restructuring. It says the government failed to take the money it saved by cutting off energy subsidies and reinvest it in energy production, and instead simply distributed cash benefits to consumers.