Iran: Guardians Council approves austerity bill
Iran's Guardians Council, the body charged with assuring that legislation conforms to Islamic law, on Jan. 13 approved President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's "Economic Reform Plan," which will remove subsidies on oil, electricity, water and basic foods. The Majlis, Iran's parliament, passed the bill last week, following controversy with Ahmadinejad, who sought to distribute a portion of the anticipated $100 billion in annual savings (some 30% of the total government budget) to Iran's poor through government-sponsored savings accounts. Opposition lawmakers wanted all Iranians to benefit from the savings, and sought greater oversight of the funds. Under a compromise, the Supreme Iranian Audit Court will oversee the accounts. (RFE/RL, The Majlis blog, Jan. 14; Zawya, Jan. 6; Press TV, Jan. 5; Tehran Times, Jan. 4; Press TV, Jan. 3)
The lifting of the subsidies is widely seen as a response to the falling price of oil.
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