Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Ahmadinejad comes under fierce criticism from conservatives, hard-liners over soaring inflation

Ahmadinejad comes under fierce criticism from conservatives, hard-liners over soaring inflation

A sharp rise in inflation has provoked fierce criticism of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not only from his reformist opponents but also senior conservatives who helped bring him to power but now say he is mismanaging the economy.
Ahmadinejad has tried to quell the critics by blaming the rising inflation on Iran's previous leaders, but economists and some fellow conservatives say it's his policies that have led to the higher prices.
Over the past month, the price of basic commodities has suddenly jumped. A kilogram (about 2 pounds) of chicken has increased 35 percent to US$2.44, and rice is up 43 percent, selling for US$2.12 a kilogram.
Prices for fruit and vegetables have almost tripled in the past year and housing prices have more than doubled since last summer.
In comments reported Monday, even prominent Ahmadinejad ally Mohammad Reza Bahonar reversed his usual strong support for the government and admitted that the president has made mistakes. Bahonar, a top behind-the-scenes hard-liner, is believed to have been a key engineer of the election campaign that brought Ahmadinejad to power in 2005.
"Inflation is a reality. If a fundamental solution is not found, we are going to see harder days in the next two or three months," Bahonar, who is the deputy parliamentary speaker, was quoted in several newspapers as saying. "Increase in liquidity was among the government's mistakes. This has happened in the past two years."
Political analyst Leila Chamankhah called Bahonar's reversal "a clear but rare admission of defeat."
Ahmadinejad was elected on a populist agenda promising to bring oil revenues to every family, eradicate poverty, improve living standards and tackle unemployment. Now he is being challenged for his failure to meet those promises.
Reformists and even some fellow conservatives say Ahmadinejad has concentrated too much on fiery, anti-U.S. speeches and not enough on the economy _ and they have become more aggressive in calling him to account.
Central Bank of Iran figures released this month showed the price of basic commodities and services increased 19 percent in November and confirmed that overall inflation stood at 16.8 percent _ double the rate when Ahmadinejad took office.
Independent economists and experts put the inflation rate well over 30 percent.
Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful figure in Iran's clerical leadership, warned Ahmadinejad on Friday that he needs to speak less and do more for his country.
"Inflation won't be resolved through slogans and political manipulation ... one of the big mistakes of the (former) shah's regime was that it sought to satisfy the people through imports ... if we think that inflation can be resolved through imports, we have to know that it leads to a fall in domestic production," said Rafsanjani, whose camp includes Iran's older more experienced politicians.
Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the conservative mayor of Tehran, blamed economic woes on Ahmadinejad's "mismanagement" in running the country.
Qalibaf said there was inflation when crude oil was sold at US$10 a barrel and inflation has increased even now that oil prices are near US$100 per barrel. More than 80 percent of Iran's government revenues come from crude oil exports.
Mohsen Rezaei, the conservative former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, said the injection of huge amounts of liquidity was the main cause of increase in prices.
"The source of inflation is the government itself. It needs to rectify its economic behavior in order to control inflation," he said in remarks published Sunday.
The Iranian government has increased liquidity by printing a large amount of bank notes. Another prominent economist, Mohammad Sattarifar, has said liquidity increased from 680 trillion rials (US$72.3 billion) in 2004 to 1,400 trillion rials ($148.9 billion) this year.
In a rare gesture, Ahmadinejad admitted last week that inflation existed but blamed it on his predecessors, the conservative-dominated parliament, state-run media and bank managers who misused their power and printed too many bank notes.
"Inflation has its roots in the past," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech.
His comments were denounced from all sides.
Sattarifar said in a letter published Saturday that Ahmadinejad is to blame for flooding the market with too many bank notes, relying too much on imported goods _ including basic commodities _ and using oil money on the daily expenses of his government instead of distributing it to the people as promised.
The incorrect "distribution of oil revenues by the government, doubling liquidity ... and excessive imports that has led to a recession in domestic production" were the work of Ahmadinejad's government, he said.
The growing discontent comes less than three months ahead of crucial parliamentary elections slated for March 14.
Hard-line conservatives gained control of the parliament in the February 2004 elections after the country's constitutional watchdog barred thousands of reformists from running.
But in local municipal elections a year ago, the president's allies suffered a humiliating defeat after a majority of the seats were won by reformists and anti-Ahmadinejad conservatives.


Updated : 2021-05-19 07:48 GMT+08:00