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'Iran govt ill-equipped to carry out subsidy plan'

world Updated: Nov 01, 2010 16:10 IST

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has charged that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government lacks the means to implement its plan to scrap subsidies on energy products.

Mousavi, quoted on fellow opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi's website Sahamnews.org on Monday, also reiterated that the government's "adventurous" foreign policies were endangering Iran's regime.

"We are not against targeted subsidies, but what we are really saying is that they (government) do not have the people to execute and manage this plan as most experts have been sidelined," he told Karroubi at a meeting on Sunday.

Ahmadinejad's government aims to remove subsidies on energy, utilities and some basic food products that, according to official estimates, cost state coffers around 100 billion dollars (77 billion euros) a year.

Part of Iran's ruling conservative camp has repeatedly expressed concern over the plan to cut subsidies, saying it would further stoke inflation at a time when the economy is already reeling under high inflation and unemployment.

Parliament had tried to delay and limit the implementation of the measure by challenging the government's sole authority to decide how to distribute among the poor the savings generated from scrapping the subsidies.

Mousavi also accused the government of deploying police, militiamen and members of the elite Revolutionary Guards across Tehran to "intimidate" people as it implemented the subsidy scrapping plan.

"This is not the method to implement targeted subsidies by sending police backed by Sepah (Guards) and Basijis (militiamen) to intimidate people in 2,000 areas of Tehran," said Mousavi, who steadfastly continues to oppose Ahmadinejad's re-election last year.

"Such kind of management has inflicted hardships on the country, be it in the economy or other aspects, making it more difficult to return to where we were six years ago," he said.

He was referring to the period before Ahmadinejad came to power for the first time in 2005.

On the foreign policy front, the government's policies were also endangering the country's Islamic regime itself and not just the economy, according to Mousavi.

"The adventurous foreign policies have resulted in issuing of several resolutions by international organisation against us in a short period and this has had negative effect on people's livelihood," he said, referring to UN sanctions imposed on Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme.

Karroubi, who like Mousavi was defeated by Ahmadinejad in a June 2009 presidential election, renewed his criticism of the government, charging it had "slaughtered freedom".