Iran’s former president warns about inflation

TEHERAN - Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday warned about rising inflation in Iran and criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ways of dealing with the problem.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 21 Dec 2007, 5:15 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:41 PM

“Take this issue very seriously... It should be dealt with using economic expertise and not with slogans and political games,” Rafsanjani said in a speech broadcast live on the state radio.

His comments came five days after Ahmadinejad gave a televised interview to combat growing complaints about inflation, in which he blamed his political opponents and external factors rather than the government’s performance.

“Avoid slogans and incorrect statistics and bring out realities,” Rafsanjani said in his sermon for the prayers of the Islamic holiday of Eid Ghorban or Feast of the Sacrifice.

The Arab Eid al-Adha marking the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia is called Eid Ghorban in Iran.

The pragmatic cleric had so far avoided making direct comments on Iran’s inflation problems, although many of his allies have not shied away from criticising Ahmadinejad.

Rafsanjani, who was humiliatingly defeated by Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential elections, is one of the president’s main political rivals.

Inflation -- which reached 19.1 percent in the month to the end of November -- has become a major political issue in Iran ahead of crucial March 14 parliamentary elections.

Ahmadinejad’s electoral platform was made up of promises of making ordinary people feel the benefits of the country’s oil wealth. One of his government’s measures to fight inflation has been increasing imports.

Rafsanjani warned against this policy.

“When oil prices soared in the shah’s time, he tried to satisfy people with plentiful imports. But this put production into hibernation,” Rafsanjani said of the last monarch of imperial Iran.

“This was one of the main reasons for his defeat,” he said, referring to the shah’s overthrow in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Rafsanjani, Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997, was dubbed the ”commander of construction” for seeking to revive the country’s broken infrastructure after the eight-year Iran-Iraq war which ended in 1988.

His comments are the latest in a string of criticisms made by MPs, officials and economic experts accusing Ahmadinejad of proclaiming populist slogans rather than making scientific economic decisions.

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