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Iran may hand staple-food coupons to help poor, Mehr says

Bloomberg

By Ladane Nasseri

Iran’s government may distribute staple foods to 17 million of the country’s poorest people before the Iranian year ends on March 20, Mehr reported, citing an unidentified Commerce Ministry official.

Rice, sugar and cooking oil would be handed to those identified as being in need, the official said, according to a report today by the state-run news agency.

Iran’s inflation has quickened and the economy is under strain amid tighter U.S. and European Union sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. December inflation accelerated to 27.4 percent from 26.1 the previous month, according to the Central Bank.

The parliament and Ahmadinejad government earlier agreed to allocate about $2 billion from the National Development Fund, where 20 percent of Iran oil revenue is directed, to support low-income families, the Mehr report said.

Iran’s ministry of industries, mines and commerce was previously in charge of handing staples coupons, though the distribution was halted after the nation started in 2010 a subsidy reform plan, according to a Mehr report yesterday.

Based on the plan, some Iranians have been receiving monthly payments to make up for hikes in energy and food prices. Distribution may now resume as the government and parliament announced their intention to increase the purchasing power of the poor in the remaining months of the year, Mehr said.