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Iran’s Raisi pledges to tackle inflation

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Iranian MPs attend the parliamentary session./AFP
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Jan 23, 2023 - 07:59 AM

TEHRAN, IRAN — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday set the tackling of galloping inflation and currency devaluation as priorities for the 2023-2024 budget presented to parliament.

The pledge came as the rial touched a new low.

Addressing MPs, Raisi tried to reassure Iranians over the economy which faces a serious crisis due primarily to US sanctions, mainly on oil exports. These were reimposed after Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

“Transparency, improving people’s livelihoods… controlling inflation and costs and supporting the stock market” are the budget priorities for the year starting on March 21, Raisi said.

At the end of December, the governor of the central bank resigned after the rial lost around 30 percent of its value in two months, falling from 330,000 to 430,000 per US dollar.

On Sunday, the national currency traded at around 450,000 rials per dollar, a new all-time low.

At the same time, inflation reached 45 percent at the end of December.

“Know that the prices of (foreign) currencies and gold, as well as the prices of many expensive things in the country will decrease,” the president promised, without explaining in detail the strategy of the government to achieve this.

Iran’s economy has been subject to increasing pressure with fresh sanctions imposed by Western countries over the authorities response to protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Iran has been gripped by the protests since the September 16 death in custody of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian, for an alleged violation of the country’s strict dress code for women.

Western countries have also imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic over providing Russia with drones they say are used in the Ukraine war. Tehran had repeatedly denied supplying weapons “to be used” in the war, but later admitted sending drones to Russia before the invasion began in February.

“The enemy is trying to impose difficult conditions and despair on the people” but “the government and parliament must give people hope,” Raisi said.

He assured that the government has “a short and long-term strategy” to support activity in the sectors of housing, health, food and transport.

Parliament on Sunday approved the budget which relied on projected exports of 1.4 million barrels of crude per day at an average price of $85 per barrel, state news agency IRNA reported.

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