Iranians reluctantly accept huge gasoline price rise

Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:56am GMT

* Petrol price quadruples overnight

* Subsidy cuts a political risk for Ahmadinejad

* Heavy police presence during night, things calm Sunday

By Mitra Amiri

TEHRAN, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The price of gasoline in Iran rose four-fold on Sunday while a heavy police presence ensured there was no repeat of rioting seen the last time the government restricted access to heavily subsidised fuel.

Motorists had been expecting the rise for the last three months as part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policy to phase out subsidies on essentials like energy, food and water, so the midnight price hike was accepted with grim resignation.

"Are people happy? Sure, the Iranian people always welcome high prices," said one employee at a Tehran petrol station, raising an eyebrow to emphasise the sarcasm.

Reuters witnesses saw a heavy police presence at several gas stations on Saturday night as Ahmadinejad announced the start of the subsidy reform plan on a television programme.   Continued...

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