Eleven days after an emergency request by President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has allowed the withdrawal of one billion euros from the National Development Fund, or Iran’s foreign currency savings.
Rouhani April 6 thanked Khamenei and issued a series of directives for the use of the funds to help fight the coronavirus epidemic that has killed thousands in Iran.
The head of Iran’s Planning and Budget Organization, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht has also issued orders “To take action to secure the needs of the health ministry, medical training and treatment, with utilizing domestic production” as much as possible.
He also announced that some of the funds will be allocated to the unemployment insurance funds.
While Khamenei waited 11 days to approve Rouhani’s request, it took him just four days after the death of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani to appropriate 200 million euros from the National Development Fund for the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.
The Rouhani administration says that it needs emergency funds and has applied for a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. So far there has been no public response from the IMF, although it has announced the first tranche of its coronavirus emergency loans, with India receiving the largest chunk.
Iran has also launched a diplomatic and public campaign to pressure the United States to cancel its economic sanctions, which have seriously hurt Iran’s economy since 2018.
Washington has responded that Iran should use large, tax-free funds available to the Supreme Leader. U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted on March 30, “If the Iranian regime needs funds to deal with the #coronavirus, it can access billions in @khamenei_ir's tax-free hedge fund.”