Iran parliament votes to halt subsidy reform plan

DUBAI, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Iran's parliament voted on Sundayto suspend plans for further reform of the country's food andfuel subsidies, with legislators citing economic pain caused bythe plunge of the rial currency, Iranian media reported.

Subsidy reform has been a centrepiece of the economicpolicies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, so parliament's votewas a political blow to the president at a time when he facesgrowing public discontent over the rial's slide.

Of 240 members of parliament present, 179 voted for a billhalting the second phase of subsidy reform, while 17 votedagainst the bill and 20 abstained, according to the IranianLabour News Agency (ILNA). Final details of the bill must stillbe approved by parliament, ILNA reported.

The reform aims to ease pressure on state finances bycutting tens of billions of dollars from the amount which thegovernment pays to subsidise low consumer prices for food andfuel, while offsetting the impact on Iran's poorest citizens bygiving them monthly cash payments.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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