Economy, Business And Markets

Gov’t to Pay Justice Share Dividends

One of the aims pursued by this move was to make stock ownership more common among ordinary citizens.One of the aims pursued by this move was to make stock ownership more common among ordinary citizens.

After more than a decade, the dividends of the so-called “Justice Shares” held by more than 49 million Iranians have been determined to be worth 550 trillion rials ($14.47 billion) on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by top government officials.

First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri had said that each holder of Justice Shares will start receiving their dividends as of the next Iranian year (March 20, 2017).

“The dividends will first be paid to the sixth lowest income deciles from the bottom up in 18 stages,” he was quoted as saying by the Persian daily Shahrvand.

Jahangiri noted that the total value of Justice Shares is set to nearly double to 1 quadrillion rials ($26.31 billion) in the next four months. Speaking at the same ceremony, Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia said the dividends’ exact figure stands at 5.3 million rials ($139) per share for eligible shareholders and 10 million rials ($263) per share for the two lowest income deciles of the Iranian population.

“This ceremony marks the recognition of the ownership rights of 50 million Iranians in businesses across the country and [the government’s] endeavors to improve the living conditions of low-income classes,” he said.

The Justice Share drama began in 2005 when the parliament tasked the previous government with privatizing state-owned companies and giving some of the stakes to different strata with the aim of bringing about equitable distribution of wealth.

Another aim pursued by this move was to make stock ownership more common among ordinary citizens, each of whom received shares from a particular state entity.

The government of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched the initiative with much fanfare. Justice Shares were given to the six lowest income deciles of Iranians. To prevent the owners from selling their shares immediately, their resale was barred.

Reports mentioned that the sale of these shares has been extensively debated by the current administration. However, the government’s decision is still unclear, though there have been talks of setting up Exchange Traded Funds for Justice Shares in the near future.

The government had previously sent a bill to the parliament to pay up to 10 million rials ($263) to all shareholders and 20 million rials ($526) to the lowest income deciles.

According to Iranian Privatization Organization, currently each Justice Share is estimated to be worth around 20 million rials ($526) on Tehran Stock Exchange and Iran Fara Bourse. Thirty-five companies listed on TSE and 25 firms listed on IFB make up the Justice Shares’ portfolio.

Officials also unveiled the website for clarifying issues related to Justice Shares. Shareholders can use the website to get information on their assets and the latest value of their stocks.

The last Iranian year (March 2015-16) was the last year that the treasury was to collect the dividends of 60 companies placed in Justice Shares’ portfolio as payment for privatization. The companies had paid about 250 trillion rials ($6.71 billion) of dividends to the government up to that point.

According to Tayyebnia, the deadline is to be extended by the end of the current year (March 20), as 3.5 trillion rials ($921 million) of the total figure have yet to be paid.

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