AFP: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday blamed his political rivals and the global economy for stoking inflation in Iran, amid increasing domestic criticism of his economic policies. TEHRAN (AFP) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday blamed his political rivals and the global economy for stoking inflation in Iran, amid increasing domestic criticism of his economic policies.
In a prime-time interview with state television, Ahmadinejad defended the government’s economic record against accusations that his expansionary policies were directly responsible for the surge in prices in recent months.
Ahmadinejad denounced his critics for “carrying out an organised psychological war against the government, which makes the prices rise.”
He complained that rival political factions were “constantly sniping” against the government’s economic policy, fuelling expectations of future inflation.
It was the conservative president’s latest assault against his reformist and moderate political opponents, whom he had previously accused of being traitors for pressuring the government in the nuclear crisis with the West.
Inflation — which reached 19.1 percent in the month to end-November — has become a major political issue in Iran ahead of crucial March 14 legislative elections.
Ahmadinejad’s critics have accused him of fuelling inflation by injecting huge amounts of cash into the economy to fund local infrastructure projects promised on provincial trips and loans for the poor.
But while acknowledging the existence of inflation in Iran, Ahmadinejad made no mention of his provincial promises and also said the increase in crude oil prices and the fall in the dollar were responsible.
“Over the last 18 months, the rise in oil prices has increased national revenues but in the same period world prices have increased. And our economy is greatly dependent on imports,” he said in the interview.
Ahmadinejad said the price of goods imported into Iran had risen by 16 percent and noted that money supply growth had reached high levels of around 40 percent.
“Also the external value of the dollar has fallen while within the country the value of the dollar is maintained artificially,” he added.
The two-hour television interview, given just hours before Ahmadinejad left for Saudi Arabia to attend the hajj pilgrimage, appeared aimed at showing the president’s concern for the inflation problems in Iran.
Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 on a platform of making the poor feel the benefits of Iran’s massive oil wealth and made implementation of economic “justice” the main government slogan.
But the inflation has hit the poor hardest and it remains to be seen whether his televised intervention will end the accusations against the government.
“The daily rises in prices are making all the disinherited howl,” conservative lawmaker Ahmad Nateq Nouri said on Sunday. “The figures announced by the central bank do not correspond to the truth.”
Prominent moderates such as reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami have publicly lambasted Ahmadinejad for his handling of the economy in recent weeks.