TEHRAN (AFP) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on Monday once again criticised over his government’s handling of Iran’s economy, with one leading MP saying it was marked by a lack of “theory and planning.”
Inflation, which many economists estimate will hit more than 20 percent this year, is an increasing source of anxiety in Iran as sharp rises in basic foodstuffs and services over the past six months hit the poor hardest.
“The government has the right approach but it has taken many bad decisions, notably an acceleration in spending oil income,” said Ahmad Tavakoli, the influential MP who heads parliament’s research centre.
“This has caused a rise in imports and the awakening of the inflation monster,” he said in comments widely picked up by the press.
The criticism by Tavakoli, seen as a moderate but conservative, indicates that concern over the government’s handling of the economy is shared by conservatives as well as reformists.
“Unfortunately I have to say that despite the efforts of the government, I cannot give it a good mark because of the lack of theory, planning and an economic expert in the cabinet,” he added.
Meanwhile, Grand Ayatollah Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardebili, who is close to the reformists, also spoke out over inflation.
“The question of inflation is making people cry out. It is important that the government makes this question a priority and looks after the disinherited,” he said.
Iran’s year-on-year inflation is currently 15.8 percent, according to central bank statistics.
However, many economists dispute this figure and Iranian parliamentary research has estimated that inflation this year will be running at 22.4 percent.
Iran has been enjoying revenue windfalls from the high price of crude oil, but Ahmadinejad’s opponents have accused him of frittering the income away on highly visible infrastructure projects promised during his provincial trips.
The president’s critics say such spending has fuelled inflation and caused money supply growth to rocket to levels of around 40 percent. The government insists it is doing all it can to keep inflation in check.