Iran draws €1bn from sovereign wealth fund to fight virus
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has approved a government request for tapping into the sovereign wealth fund to finance the current nationwide fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports in the local media on Monday said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had extended his appreciation to the Leader for approving the request while ordering government agencies to do the appropriations with regards to the fund.
Rouahni said in a letter addressed to the Plan and Budget Organization of Iran that the funds should be used to supply drugs and vital medical equipment needed by the Iranian health ministry, adding that purchasing those items from domestic suppliers should be a priority.
The president also ordered part of the fund to go to the social security system as the spread of the new coronavirus has caused a surge in applications for unemployment benefits across Iran.
The fund drawn from Iran’s sovereign wealth fund comes on top of billions of dollars spent by the government to finance the anti-pandemic fight and to mitigate the economic impacts of the disease.
The government approved last week to pay around $5 billion in cheap loans to businesses affected by lockdown measures to contain the virus.
More than $250 million has also been provided to the Iranian health ministry and other health care providers to help them see to the patients suffering from the virus.
Iran has almost been on its own in the fight against COVID-19 as a series of harsh economic sanctions imposed by the United States has seriously hampered government’s access to foreign-supplied equipment and drugs needed to contain the pandemic.
However, the country has relied on domestic industries to battle the virus with labs and hospitals using home-made testing kits, protective equipment and other vital devices like ventilators as they struggle to go through the pandemic.