End of Fuel Cards Imminent

End of Fuel Cards ImminentEnd of Fuel Cards Imminent

President Hassan Rouhani has signaled the end of electronic fuel cards, government spokesman said on Tuesday, drawing to a close a disputed system introduced nearly a decade ago by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for rationing subsidized gasoline and diesel.

"Scrapping the fuel cards was part of the amendments to Iran's budget ( 2016-17) and the president has given the go-ahead" to invalidate the fuel cards which the government says has lost its purpose, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said, Shana reported.

He added that the parliament had assigned the government with making the  final decision on the fate of the fuel cards that were given to all motorists, cabbies and heavy and light vehicle owners.

Comments by Nobakht put to rest months of public wrangling between the government and the political opponents of the president and his administration over the fate of the fuel cards.

In April, a group of conservative-leaning lawmakers passed a law as part of the state budget that mandated the government to introduce two prices for gasoline; a base price for subsidized gasoline and a higher price that would be used after consumption hit a certain ceiling.

The legislation was seen as a setback for the Rouhani administration, which had eliminated the quota system in May 2015. Gasoline since then is available at a single price for all consumers.

A budget amendment in August revoked the two-tier pricing scheme but  left the door open for discarding the fuel rationing system once and for all.

In that month Mehdi Mofatteh, the rapporteur of Majlis Energy Commission, claimed the government had no plans to abandon the fuel cards.

Respected analysts and economic experts have long been against the fuel cards, underlining the system as unwanted and a source of corruption.

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has made the logical argument that the fuel cards are indeed irrelevant when gasoline is sold at a single price without limitations, stressing that there was no meaningful use in collecting data via the cards.

The fuel card launch in 2007 was trumpeted as a means of curbing consumption, adjusting prices and eliminating fuel smuggling rampant before the rationing system was introduced.

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