Reuters: Iran's annual inflation rose to 26.4 percent in June, an Iranian news agency cited central bank figures as showing on Thursday, as consumer prices continued to climb steadily in the world's fourth-largest oil exporter.
TEHRAN, July 3 (Reuters) – Iran's annual inflation rose to 26.4 percent in June, an Iranian news agency cited central bank figures as showing on Thursday, as consumer prices continued to climb steadily in the world's fourth-largest oil exporter.
Rising inflation is expected to be a key issue for voters in next year's presidential election, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad facing growing criticism from MPs, the public and the media over his government's failure to rein in price hikes.
The Mehr News Agency quoted the central bank as saying consumer prices rose by 2.2 percent in the Iranian month that ended on June 20 compared with the previous month, when the year-on-year rate reached 25.3 percent.
Compared with the same month in 2007, prices rose 26.4 percent in June, it said.
Central bank officials were not immediately available for comment on the Mehr report and the bank's website (www.cbi.ir) did not carry the inflation data.
Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005 on a pledge to share out Iran's oil wealth more fairly but the conservative president has come under fire over his economic policies.
Analysts say the profligate spending of an influx of petrodollars combined with interest rates well below inflation are factors fuelling inflation.
A London-based economist said the latest inflation figure was no surprise. He blamed loose fiscal and monetary polices while saying rising global food and other prices added to the problem.
"External factors have made it (inflation) worse but it is home-grown," said the economist, who declined to be named.
Conservatives retained their clear parliamentary majority in a March election but analysts expect the assembly to become increasingly critical of Ahmadinejad's economic management ahead of the 2009 vote, when he is expected to stand for re-election.
The president has dismissed the criticism arguing rising inflation is a global problem and saying his government is tackling the issue.
Iran has reaped windfall gains in recent years from record world oil prices and says its economy grows by more than 6 percent annually, despite tightening international sanctions over nuclear work the West fears is aimed at making bombs.
Analysts, however, say the nuclear standoff is making foreign firms more wary of investing in the Islamic Republic. (Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian and Fredrik Dahl; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Ron Askew)