Rouhani: Iran cannot shut down economy despite worsening coronavirus outbreak

Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions. (WANA via Reuters)
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Updated 11 July 2020

Rouhani: Iran cannot shut down economy despite worsening coronavirus outbreak

  • Iran must continue ‘economic, social and cultural activities while observing health protocols’
  • The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will shrink by six percent this year

TEHRAN: Iran said on Saturday that it cannot afford to shut down its sanctions-hit economy, even as the Middle East’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak worsens with record-high death tolls and rising infections.
Iran must continue “economic, social and cultural activities while observing health protocols,” President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised virus taskforce meeting.
“The simplest solution is to close down all activities, (but) the next day, people would come out to protest the (resulting) chaos, hunger, hardship and pressure,” he added.

However, he called for big gatherings such as weddings and wakes to be banned to stem a rise in coronavirus infections.
Shortly after Rouhani’s televised speech, a police official in Tehran announced the closure of all wedding and mourning venues in the capital until further notice.
The Islamic republic has been struggling since late February to contain the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed over 12,400 people and infected more than 252,000.
Deaths from the respiratory disease hit 221 on Thursday — a single-day record for Iran.
The country closed schools, canceled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but Rouhani’s government progressively lifted restrictions from April to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.
The outbreak’s rising toll has prompted authorities to make wearing masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and to allow the hardest hit provinces to reimpose restrictive measures.
Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions.
The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will shrink by six percent this year.
“It is not possible to keep businesses and economic activities shut down in the long-term,” Rouhani said, emphasizing that “the people will not accept this.”
Health Minister Said Namaki warned on Wednesday of a potential “revolt over poverty” and blamed US sanctions for the government’s “empty coffers.”
The reopening of the economy “was not over our ignorance (of the virus’ dangers), but it was due to us being on our knees against an economy that could take no more,” Namaki said on state television.
US sanctions targeted vital oil sales and banking relations, among other sectors, forcing Iran to rely on non-oil exports, which have dropped as borders were closed to stem the spread of the virus.


Proposals to cut expats in Kuwait reviewed by National Assembly committee

Updated 10 August 2020

Proposals to cut expats in Kuwait reviewed by National Assembly committee

  • One of the seven plans submitted by members of parliament calls to set a percentage for each migrant community in the country
  • The Kuwaiti government’s plan calls to replace about 160,000 expat working in the public sector with nationals

DUBAI: Thousands of expats in Kuwait are expected to leave the country as talks over the decision have started between the government and the National Assembly human resources committee.
The government and parliamentary proposals are being reviewed by the committee, national daily Kuwait Times reported.
One of the seven plans submitted by members of parliament calls to set a percentage for each migrant community in the country.
The Kuwaiti government’s plan also calls to replace about 160,000 expat working in the public sector with nationals, but did not provide a timeframe.
The proposal also suggests that about 370,000 expats who show a “negative impact” on the country or are illegal residents can be dismissed by taking short-term measures.
The government added in its plan that “marginal” workers should be reduced by 25 percent. It also expects to lower temporary employment contracts by 30 percent in government jobs.
The government also discussed the massive increase in the expat population in the country between 2005 and 2019, as it went up to 4.42 million. It added that during this time, the citizens’ population increased from 860,000 to 1.335 million.