BEIRUT—Iranian authorities are taking extraordinary security measures ahead of cuts to energy and food subsidies this month, in an effort to prevent unrest by a public upset about rising expenses and inflation.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cautioned the public on Wednesday against politicizing the economic reforms and threatened to severely punish businesses that raise prices of consumer goods in reaction to subsidy cuts.
In a nationally broadcast speech to a rally in the northeastern city of Bojnurd, he said government agents would “catch and fine anyone who abused the situation and make them regret it forever.”
The government, in a five-year phaseout plan, seeks to eliminate up to $100 billion a year in food and energy subsidies that keep costs down for consumers. About 65 million Iranians, out of a population of 75 million, will receive cash payments of about $40 a month to ease the economic pain of lost subsidies. Cash payments in some provinces have already begun.