MPs raise series of objections to Government proposals


Iran’s Parliament has rejected the Rouhani Government’s budget for 2018-19, sending it to a commission for review.

The Majlis voted against the plan’s general outlines by 120-83 on Sunday. It was an almost unprecedented rejection by legislators of a proposed budget. The reconciliation commission of Parliament was given 72 hours to confirm amendments for an improved bill.

A senior advisor to President Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht had cautioned MPs that “returning the budget bill to the reconciliation commission only leads to wasting MPs’ time and relaying a negative message to the public”.

One of the disputes was over the price of fuel. Rouhani asked for an increase, while MPs insisted on maintaining the current level.

The bill’s critics also said the budget ignored Iran’s problems with drought and other agricultural issues. Legislators questioned a reliance on state bonds to finance the deficit, claimed disregard for the necessity of “creating jobs”, and dependence on oil income, including an increase in the National Development Fund’s share of oil revenues. At least one member of the reconciliation commission objected to reduction of funds for cultural organizations while leaving the budget for conservative clerics and organizations unotuched.

The Government’s proposed budget is an 8.9% increase on 2017-2018. It is based on an oil price of $49 per barrel.

81-Year-Old Political Prisoner Namazi Given 4-Day Furlough

Iranian-American political prisoner Baquer Namazi, 81, has been given a four-day furlough.

Former UNICEF official Namazi was seized in February 2016 after he arrived from Dubai to visit his son Siamak, an Iranian-American dual national who was detained in October 2015, at Evin Prison. Both men were subsequently given 10-year sentences.

Reports say his health has deteriorated in recent weeks, with hospitalization on January 15 for low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat before he was returned to prison. Doctors have advised that he not be returned to detention.

The Namazi family’s international lawyer Jared Genser said in a statement:

We do not know why the Iranian Government has released Baquer Namazi for only four days. But what is clear is that returning him to Evin Prison would be a death sentence that would be carried out quickly. On humanitarian grounds his leave must be made permanent. And it is urgent that Siamak Namazi and the rest of the wrongfully imprisoned Americans also have their cases resolved.

2nd Woman Arrested for Protesting Against Compulsory Hijab

A second woman has been arrested for demonstrating against compulsory hijab, standing on a telecom box on a Tehran street, taking off her headscarf, and holding it aloft on a stick.

In late December, 31-year-old Vida Movahed stood on a telecom box on Enghelab Street in the centre of the capital. Her image quickly went viral.


Movahed, the mother of a 19-month-old child, was detained but reportedly released last weekend.

Pictures posted on social media on Monday showed at least three other women standing on top of telecom boxes in Tehran, including one near Ferdowsi Square.