TEHRAN – Iran’s parliament (Majlis) has given its assent to allocate $1.5 billion to villagers in a bid to boost rural economy.
“Majlis has agreed to appropriate $1.5 billion to the country’s villages from the National Development Fund,” Hamid Banaee, a member of the parliamentary development committee, said on Friday.
“Majlis has had a special look on villages and youth employment though much is yet to be done to fix the issue,” he added.
Portions of the budget will go to renovating dilapidated houses and transportation infrastructures, according to the lawmaker.
Rural development has been long considered a blind spot in Iran’s economic perspective with consecutive governments failing to address the challenge responsibly.
A quarter of the 80-million country lives in rural areas, according to a national consensus in October 2016, showing a drop of nearly one million over a five-year period.
Under the country’s six five-year development plan (2017-2022), revenues from value-added tax levied on tobacco, gasoline and jet fuel will be proportionally allocated to rural development.
Lack of basic facilities, high employment and environmental challenges among others have resulted in immense displacement and slum-dwelling in metropolitan cities.
Experts have warned that if the current population displacement persists, Iran has to brace itself for a security loophole in border areas in the near future.
According to a 2016 report, out of a total 3,555 villages in eastern province of Southern Khorasan, 1,703 ones have been left abandoned.
The third largest one in Iran, the province shares a 460-kilometer border with Afghanistan.
Shrinking rural population has been reported in central Iran, as well.
Markazi province, home to Arak nuclear reactor, has an analogous condition.
Upwards of 429 villages, out of 1,639, are now empty, a provincial official said.
The Rouhani administration has taken measures to staunch rural migration. Since 2013, the biggest gas pipeline network stretching has happened with 9,000 villages now having access to natural gas.
The cabinet also introduced a new healthcare system, providing all low-income families, including villagers, full health insurance.
Source : Tehran Times