Iran’s health minister has confirmed that the government has eliminated a major subsidy for medicines, a move some see as a death sentence for many people who cannot afford market prices.
Minister Bahram Einollahi said on Sunday that manufacturers will no longer receive cheap dollars from the government to import raw materials, meaning they should buy dollars at a fivefold higher rate on the exchange market.
The public relations manager prof the ministry said, however, that the change hasn’t been finalized yet and the supply of medicine with cheap dollars is still going on.
Social media users say such a decision would be “an obvious and deliberate act of mass murder!”
Earlier in March, Iran’s parliament decided to scrap an annual subsidy of up to $15 billion for essential food and medicines, despite warnings of more inflationand hardship, but there were speculations that the government would make an exception for medicine.
The idea to eliminate the subsidy emerged after hardliner president Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) assumed office in August and could count on backing from conservatives and ultra-conservatives in control of Iran’s parliament.
The subsidy was introduced in April 2018 when former US president Donald Trump signaled his intention to withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran known as JCPOA, and Iran’s national currency began to nosedive. Prices for imported goods skyrocketed and the government decided to provide cheap dollars to importers of essential goods to keep prices low.