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Ahmadinejad proposes referendum on subsidy reform plan

TEHRAN, March 20 (Mehr News Agency) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has offered holding a referendum on implementing the subsidy reform plan as he believes implementing the plan in its current form will put the vulnerable families in hard economic condition.

The proposal by the president came as the government has complained of a parliamentary approval which allows it to just gain $20 billion from subsidy cut savings in the next financial year which begins on March 21.

The government had drafted the annual budget bill in a way to gain $40 billion subsidy cuts. However, the Majlis said according to the parliamentary ratification the release of prices should be gradual and take place within a five-year term.

The government says it needs $40 billion from subsidy cuts to pay cash to families most vulnerable to the reform plan. However, the Majlis believes that gaining $40 billion dollars from subsidy savings will lead to sharp price rises.

However, Ahmadinejad interpreted the reasoning by lawmakers as an opposition to the economic reform plan.

"These remarks emanate either from their lack of information or they do not want the plan to be implemented," the president told the "Safar Bekheir" TV program on Friday night.

"Unfortunately, some do not want this plan to be implemented, therefore, I propose putting the issue to a referendum."

The president said frightening people from enacting the subsidy plan which he called essential is considered "treasonous".

The president added that some lawmakers consider the implementation of the plan "impossible".

Ahmadinejad said despite presentation of expert and practical reasoning the opponents were not ready to accept this fact that reforming the current subsidy system is a necessity.

The president said implementing the plan based on the parliamentary approval will put citizens on a hard condition.

"The solution is that we ask people whether they want the law to be implemented or not, and put the issue to a referendum."

He said the Majlis is insisting on implementing the plan in its current form.

If lawmakers can do the plan with just $20 billion the government is ready to give them "full authority" to implement it, The president noted.

The president went on to say that "government will not do something which makes people suffer."

Government pays about $100 billion subsidy annually. According to the parliamentary approval the subsidy cuts must take place gradually within five years.

However, Ahmadinejad said through a speedy implementation of the plan the number of economic shocks to the society will be reduced.

He also countered rumors and statements that prices will increase sharply when the plan goes into effect. "With the implementation of the plan no problem will be created for the country's economy and also there will be no crisis."

... Payvand News - 03/20/10 ... --

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