People voice concern over sudden gasoline price hike

TEHRAN, Nov. 16 (MNA) – Car owners in several cities of Iran have taken to the streets to voice their protest in peacefull rallies over a sudden rise in gasoline price and strict rationing of the strategic fuel.

The National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) said in a statement late Thursday that the price of a liter of regular gasoline had gone up to 15,000 rials (12.7 US cents) from 10,000 rials and the monthly ration for each private automobile was set at 60 liters per month. Additional purchases would cost 30,000 rials per liter.

The surprise move came hardly a day after Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Thursday that fuel prices would not change in the near future.

In addition to the minister, almost all government officials and lawmakers had reiterated in their speeches that due to the anticipated inflationary impact prices would remain unchanged.

Right after the price hike, President Hassan Rouhani said the government has no intention to receive any portion of the hike despite the economic woes in the country. He added that the government's move to increase the gasoline prices would be beneficial to the Iranian people, particularly those who are going through economic hardships.

However, many believe that while the rise in fuel prices can generate more revenue for the government to buy basic goods, medicine and pay civil servants, workers and pensioners, it will definitely put low-income groups under added pressure.

Defending the plan, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, head of Plan and Budget Organization has said that about 60 million people out of the 82 million population will get an extra monthly bonus to compensate for the rise in petrol prices. He did not provide details.

“The first payments will be made within the next week or 10 days.”

According to the official, annual subsidy allocated for gasoline is $20 billion and experts believe the massive subsidy has created a yawning gap between gasoline prices in Iran (7 cents) and neighboring countries at around 100 cents. Scrapping fuel subsidies and raising tariffs had been a long-expected priority of the Oil Ministry.

MNA

News Code 152324

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