CORRECTED-Iran parliament to consider halting subsidy reform plan

Sun Oct 7, 2012 6:38am EDT

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(Corrects to say parliament to consider halting reform, not halted it)

DUBAI Oct 7 (Reuters) - Iran's parliament voted on Sunday to consider suspending plans for further reform of the country's food and fuel subsidies, with legislators citing economic pain caused by the plunge of the rial currency, Iranian media reported.

Subsidy reform has been a centrepiece of the economic policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, so parliament's vote was a political blow to the president at a time when he faces growing public discontent over the rial's slide.

Of 240 members of parliament present, 179 voted to consider whether to halt the second phase of subsidy reform, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA). It did not say when the decision would be made.

The reform aims to ease pressure on state finances by cutting tens of billions of dollars from the amount which the government pays to subsidise low consumer prices for food and fuel, while offsetting the impact on Iran's poorest citizens by giving them monthly cash payments. (Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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