TEHRAN (AFP) – The former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has become the latest leading conservative to attack President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the country’s high inflation, the press reported on Sunday.
Mohsen Rezaie, who led the elite force from 1981-1997, said the government’s policy of injecting huge amounts of liquidity to fund projects was the main cause of price rises. Inflation reached 19.1 percent in November.
“Every year the government injects a huge amount of money into society without supplying goods and services in return for this money,” Rezaie was quoted as saying by the Sarmayeh newspaper.
“Financial discipline in the state bureaucracy is also weak. Therefore the source of inflation is the government itself.
“The government should rectify its economic behaviour. That is the most important plan to control inflation.”
Rezaie, who commanded the Guards for almost all of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, now serves as secretary of Iran’s top political arbitration body the Expediency Council which also advises supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
He rarely makes comments on day-to-day policy, although his status as the longest serving commander in the history of the Revolutionary Guards gives him considerable influence.
Reformists and conservatives have intensified their criticism of Ahmadinejad after the president in a December 14 televised interview blamed his political opponents and external factors for high prices.
Rezaie described Ahamadinejad’s explanation as “correct to a great extent but not transparent.”
Another leading conservative, deputy parliament speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar, also hit out at the president who in the past had quipped that his cabinet members had to match his speed of 160 kilometres per hour.
“Someone who drives at such a speed should be more careful about his performance,” Bahonar was quoted as saying by Sarmayeh.
“If he does not foresee the obstacles in the way, the accidents will be even more terrible.”
Opponents have accused Ahmadinejad of stoking inflation by ploughing money into infrastructure projects promised on local trips and handing out generous loans to the poor.
Former Iranian presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and ex-nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani have all publicly criticised Ahmadinejad over the economy.