TEHERAN, Iran — Iran has paid nearly $15 billion into bank accounts of some 20 million families in the country as compensation for planned cuts in food and energy subsidies, state television reported Friday.
State TV said about 820,000 rials ($80) was deposited for every family member as a lump sum for the first two months of the subsidy cuts, which are expected to take effect by mid-March.
The recipients will not be able to withdraw the money until the cuts begin, and it's unclear whether the payments will continue after that period. The transactions were completed by midnight Thursday, state TV said.
The families that received payments registered in 2008 when the first stage of the government plan began. The estimated eight million Iranians who did not register then will be able to do so next month, and they will receive the funds before the cuts take effect, according to state television.
Iran claims to pay some $100 billion in subsidies annually, although experts believe the amount is about $30 billion. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Tehran cannot continue to afford the largess.