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Learning English - Words in the News
29 June, 2007 - Published 11:03 GMT
Iran petrol rationing
Damaged petrol station in Tehran

Iranians reacted angrily to the government's decision to introduce petrol rationing at a time when they're already struggling with high unemployment, spiralling inflation and low public sector pay. This report from Pam O'Toole:

Listen to the story

In his two years in office, President Ahmadinejad says he's created millions of jobs, increased foreign investment and achieved good economic growth. But a growing number of critics have accused him of using oil wealth to introduce populist economic policies which have served to drive up inflation. Officially, inflation is running at 13 per cent, but economists say in reality it's much higher. Ordinary people complain that rents have doubled, or that they can no longer afford to buy meat.

For some Iranians, the rationing of highly subsidised petrol is clearly a step too far. Iranians have always regarded cheap petrol as a kind of national birthright - particularly given the country's poor public transport system. Over recent years, a number of Iranian administrations have toyed with the idea of raising the price of subsidised petrol, or rationing supply.

The current government says rationing is essential to curb rising consumption and help reduce reliance on expensive petrol imports. But Tehran's also thought to be concerned that those petrol imports could be targeted in future sanctions imposed on it because of its controversial nuclear programme. While many Iranians support the nuclear programme, some economists fear that petrol rationing could stoke further inflation - and that's something ordinary people are anxious to avoid.

Pam O'Toole , BBC

Listen to the words

appealing to a lot of people but not necessarily good in the long term

to drive up
here, to increase

a system of limiting the amount of something that each person is allowed to have

highly subsidised
receiving a lot of money from the state in order to keep the prices low

a step too far
too much

something you believe you deserve to have (in this case, because you were born in Iran)

toyed with
considered but not very seriously and without making a decision

to curb
to reduce

causing strong disagreement or discussion

be the reason for (something negative)

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