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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Iran leader to set up 'Love Fund'
Couples at a mass wedding in Amman, Jordan, in August 2005
Charities in the Middle East regularly help poorer couples wed
Iran's government is planning to set up a billion dollar fund to help young couples from poor families get married.

The so-called Love Fund is the first piece of legislation by the new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It is not known how the $1.3bn pot, funded by Iran's oil revenue, (7 million) will be distributed.

Correspondents say weddings can be very expensive in Iran, where many people stage elaborate celebrations and invite a large number of guests.

Economists' warning

"The love fund is a realisation of the new government's slogan: taking oil money to the tables of the people," Vice-President Farhad Rahbar said on Iranian state TV.

President Ahmadinejad was elected in June on a pledge to distribute the oil earnings of the world's fourth biggest crude producer more equally.

"The government's share in the $1.3 billion for the 'Reza Love Fund' will be deducted from the oil income of the National Iranian Oil Company," Mr Rahbar said.

Each province would have a board of trustees to determine how much money needy couples should get but Mr Rahbar did not give any more details.

The proposed Love Fund has to be passed by parliament before it is set up.

But the populist conservative MPs who dominate are likely to approve of a plan with such obvious appeal to the electorate, says the BBC's Clare Doyle.

Iran's oil earnings above a pre-determined level go into the a stabilisation fund, to be used only in cases of emergencies, should oil prices slump.

And our correspondent says economists warn that raiding the country's oil revenues for social programmes like this one could lead to galloping inflation.


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