Tehran today launched the long-awaited second phase of its subsidies reform plan.This follows the completion of the registration of eligible people which started on 9 April and closed on 20 April. President Hassan Rohani has said that under the law, Iranians who do not need the cash handouts should give them up voluntarily. The government wants to make the payment of the cash transfers more targeted towards the poorer sections of society. Government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht announced on 23 April that 73mn individuals had been registered to receive the cash subsidies in the second phase. 2.4mn individuals who were receiving handouts in the first phase, had given up the right to do so in this round, he added.

Under the first phase of the subsidies reform plan implemented during the administration of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, each registered individual received a cash handout of IR450,000 ($18) per month – without any means testing. Around 76mn Iranians were said to benefit form this government aid program. The amount to be paid under the second phase has yet to be determined by the authorities, and some officials have indicated that the handouts to the more vulnerable members of society could be higher that the previously-offered figure. (CONTINUED - 751 WORDS)