‘Rise in petrol price should not spread to other commodities’

Leader backs decision to ration gasoline, raise price

November 17, 2019

TEHRAN – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday morning supported a recent government decision to ration gasoline and increase it price.

Speaking to his theology students, Ayatollah Khamenei said he has previously announced that since he’s not an expert on the issue, he would support any decision made by heads of the three branches of government and the experts.

The Leader voiced sympathy with people who feel the decision would harm them economically, but condemned any act of sabotage that has been carried out by some hooligans and supported by Iran’s enemies.

“You see in the past two days, all the centers of evil in the world have been encouraging such acts against us. From the sinister Pahlavi dynasty to the vicious and criminal gang of Monafeqin (the MEK terrorist group); they are constantly encouraging hooliganism via the internet and other means,” he added.

The government decided on Friday to cut petrol subsidies to fund support for the poor. Petrol in Iran still remains among the cheapest in the world.

According to a statement published by National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, the price for a liter of regular gasoline was increased to 15,000 rials (nearly 35 cents at the official rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) from 10,000 rials and the monthly ration for each passenger car was set at 60 liters. Additional purchases would cost 30,000 rials per liter.

In one of its latest reports dubbed “World Energy Outlook 2018”, the International Energy Agency (IEA) put Iran on top of the list of the world’s countries for energy subsidies. That means Iran holds the first place among the world’s countries in terms of the amount of subsidies which is allocated to energy consumption.

A partial increase in prices is expected to put a brake on its smuggling to some extent. Still the prices are far from reality.

Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, head of the Planning and Budget Organization, said on Thursday that proceeds from the price hikes would be used to fund additional subsidies for 18 million underprivileged families, or about 60 million people. 

Following the decision, a number of Iranian cities saw protests that turned violent in some cases, where a number of banks and government buildings were set ablaze by the rioters.

Critics question the timing of the decision, which comes while Iranian people are suffering from the reverberations of the inhumane economic sanctions imposed by the United States, and also while neighboring Iraq and Lebanon have been the scene of widespread protests.

They also criticize the sudden announcement of the measure, describing it as an undemocratic way of making a decision that affects the entire nation.

In his remarks, Ayatollah Khamenei urged the authorities to take good care of the affected people and assuage the hardship caused by the move.

He also called on the people to take note of the enemies’ plots to disrupt Iran’s security and take a separate path from the rebels that try to foment insecurity in the country.

The Leader quoted officials as saying that they would not allow the gasoline price hike to increase commodity prices.

This is important because a further increase in commodity prices creates many problems for the people, Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The spokesman for the parliament presiding board also expressed the lawmakers’ support for the fuel subsidy reform.

“The plan for rationing gasoline has been approved by the Supreme National Security Council and has been confirmed by the heads of three branches of government and the Leader and (therefore) it is binding and Majlis backs it,” the board’s spokesman Assadollah Abassi stated. 

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said the continuation of the unrest in different cities would not benefit anyone, urging the protesters to voice their criticism through legal channels.

“Any move and protest must be carried out according to law,” Rahmani Fazli said on Saturday evening.

He said some rioters have damaged public centers, including hospitals, and blocked the roads in some parts of the country.

The minister maintained that the police and security forces have observed restraint when dealing with the rioters, warning that if the illegal acts continue, they would not show tolerance any more.

“I hope all of us think of the country’s unity, cohesion, tranquility, security and excellence … and any protest under the legal frameworks is possible,” Rahmani Fazli added.

In a statement on Sunday, the Intelligence Ministry said it has successfully dealt with the main elements behind the two-day unrest and that appropriate measures are taking place.

The ministry said it would take the tough line with anyone who foments unrest and disrupts the peace of the Iranian nation.

“Definitely, the enemies who are enthusiastic about the unrest would harvest nothing but shame and disgrace,” the statement added.

MH/PA
 

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