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Lawmakers In Iran Abuse Their Power To Receive Free Housing And Cars

Parliament MPs listen to the speech of Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Sunday, July 12, 2020.
Parliament MPs listen to the speech of Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Sunday, July 12, 2020.

A former lawmaker in Iran says some legislators in the current parliament "exert pressure" to use government-owned cars and properties for free while receiving money for these expenses through their supplemental pay.

Speaking to the state-run Young Journalist Club (YJC) news website on Wednesday, August 26, Mohammad Javad Jamali Nobandegani said, "such expenses are fully paid to the MPs through their supplemental pay checks."

The supplemental pay covers their publicity expenses, leasing a car, buying gasoline, running an office, paying the staff, water and electricity bills, and procuring stationery, Jamali Nobandegani disclosed.

However, in addition to receiving free cars from the local government in their constituencies, some legislators have "even exerted pressure on government departments and universities," and occupied state-owned properties to avoid paying rent, he said.

Jamali Nobandegani added that it is impossible to investigate the issue since the properties belong to the government. Still, using facilities owned by the executive branch for non-executive purposes is against the law and Sharia, he said.

The details concerning the MPs' supplemental pay has been disclosed at a time when their basic salary has almost doubled to 110 million rials (about $2700 based on the official exchange rate) per month since 2017.

Earlier, on July 7, a hardliner member of the parliament Hossein Jalali disclosed that his first paycheck amounted to 2.31 billion rials or $55,000, an astronomical figure for individual income in Iran.

Furthermore, a former lawmaker and member of the Legal and Judicial Committee, Mohammad Dehqan, told the Fararu website that lawmakers could also apply for no-interest loans of 1.5 billion rials.

Immediately after, Dehqan and Jalai's disclosures, several Twitter users compared the two- million-rial monthly housing benefits of workers with the lawmakers' two-billion rial subsidy. However, the parliament says the payment to lawmakers is a one-off payment as a security deposit for renting residences in the capital.

Social media users have also criticized the high payments because most lawmakers belong to the hardliner camp and claim to be defenders of the poor and the underprivileged.