Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office last August, said in May that he planned to reverse privatisations carried out by the former reformist government.

State television reported on Tuesday that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic republic's supreme leader, announced on Monday a privatisation scheme for basic industries, amending an article of the constitution that had banned private ownership of state institutions.
  
With his approval, 50% of the shares are to be allocated for sale to provincial co-operative companies, with the focus on low-income sectors of society, under Ahmadinejad's plan for the "distribution of justice shares".
  
The authorities have yet to announce when Ahmadinejad's  programme, which now has Khamenei's blessing, will be launched.

Government plan
  
The government plans to sell off 80% of its stake in a range of state-run companies in the banking, media, transportation and mineral sectors under the order issued by  Khamenei.
  
Khamenei's order does not affect the oil and gas industry in Iran. The country is the second-largest oil exporter in the 11-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the fourth-largest in the world.
  
So-called "justice shares" have been allocated to a third of the population who are selected from the lowest-income group, or about 21 million people.

Beneficiaries of Ahmadinejad's proposals can pay for the shares, sold at a third of their estimated value, over a maximum period of 20 years, but they cannot be sold on during the first four years.

Khamenei's approval provides for the government at a later stage to identify the low-income class entitled to shares at half of the stock market price, to be repaid in instalments over 10 years.