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Iran Lawmakers Reject Budget Bill, Apparently To Avoid Presence Due To Coronavirus

IRAN -- Iranian lawmakers rais their hands to vote during a parliamentary session in Tehran, January 7, 2020

In an unprecedented move, Iranian legislators voted against the general outlines of the government's proposed budget bill apparently to stop further deliberations and the risk of getting exposed to coronavirus.

In an open session of parliament (Majles) on Monday, February 24, out of 191 members present, 114 voted against the general outlines of the bill proposed by President Hassan Rouhani's administration. Three MPs abstained.

Meanwhile, the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) cited an MP as saying that the reason behind voting against the bill was coronavirus that scared the legislators and forced them to reject the proposal.

The MP, whose identity is not mentioned, said, "If Majles approved the general outlines of the bill, the parliamentary regulations would force the MPs to hold two consequent Majlis sessions per day", to vote on details of the proposed budget bill. To avoid congregating again and risking infection, they threw out the budget bill.

Furthermore, he disclosed that before today's parliament session, the temperature of all lawmakers was checked, and two were told to stay out of Majles.

One of the legislators, the representative of the city of Qom Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, disregarded the recommendation and attended the open session, said the unnamed MP. Then, he told reporters that contrary to low government figures, fifty people died of coronavirus in his constituency alone.

Amirabadi Farahani has been named as the whistleblower who had disclosed the number of coronavirus' victims in Qom, the capital city of Shi'ites inside Iran. He added that he has already presented the name of forty victims to the Ministry of Health.

However, the Ministry's officials have dismissed Amirabadi Farahani's claim as unfounded, insisting that only twelve have fallen victims to the novel coronavirus across Iran.

The Minister of Health, Saeid Namaki, has gone further asserting that if Amirabadi Farahani's comments were correct, he would resign.

Qom's MP has fired back by saying that he had sent the list of forty victims to the authorities, and now, it was time for the Minister to step down.