Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education is facing a $2.1 billion budget deficit, says cabinet member.
Iran’s Minister of Health and Medical Education, Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi, told the semi-official Mehr news agency that the government’s subsidy cuts have had a “significant impact” on health costs in the country, resulting in a budget deficit of more than $2.1 billion.
In December 2010, the Ahmadinejad government began phasing out oil and food subsidies, replacing them with monthly cash down payments to the public. Authorities had promised the plan would reduce waste and result in a better distribution of country’s wealth.
Analysts believe that the most vulnerable sectors of Iranian society are the ones bearing the brunt of the economic hardship, which is caused primarily by international sanctions, coupled with the government’s mismanagement of the economy.
Recently, the spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s energy committee announced that 1.6 million Iranian families were either not paying their gas bills or already owed the National Iranian Gas Company. “When so many homes refuse to pay their debts to the National Gas Company, it’s natural that the government will not obtain the revenues it anticipated,” he explained.
Following a decision by US President Barack Obama on Saturday to sign into law new sanctions targeting Iran’s financial sector and central bank, Iran’s currency, the rial, suffered a 12 percent drop in street trading on Monday.
The US State Department said sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme were starting to take effect and the Iranian navy’s war games in the Persian Gulf were an attempt to create distraction.