Iran leader calls economy ‘urgent problem’

Iran’s supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the economic difficulties of Iranians the main and most urgent problem of the country in a message aired Thursday on state TV.

Iran has faced increased economic hardship in the last 12months which was aggravated after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers last May.

The renewal of American sanctions, which had been eased inexchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear programme, sent shockwaves throughIran’s economy.

“Specially in recent months the difficulties forpeople’s livelihoods has increased,” Khamenei said in a prerecordedmessage aired to mark the beginning of the new Iranian year (21 March 2019 till20 March 2010).

“The economy is the country’s urgent problem, it’s thecountry’s (most) serious and primary problem,” he added, mentioning thedevaluation of the national currency, the drop in purchasing power and the fallin production as symptoms of the issue.

Khamenei said increasing production was the key to savingthe economy and declared “national production” the motto of the newyear.

The IMF reported that the Iranian economy slumped intorecession in 2018 and has forecast a 3.6 per cent decline in GDP for 2019.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani also focused on the USsanctions in his new year message broadcast on state TV immediately afterKhamenei’s.

“Some might ask till when will these sanctions andproblems go on… These problems began with the oath-breakers and those whohave recently reached power in Washington, but the (key to the) end is in ourhands,” he said sitting in front of a row of Iranian flags.

“The more we are united, and the more the enemyrealises that with these sanctions our nation becomes more cohesive, the soonerthey will despair and regret (sanctioning Iran),” Rouhani said calling onall branches of government, as well as the armed forces and Iranians from allwalks of life, to put aside differences and share the burden of economic”problems and disorder”.

Rouhani had heavily counted on the 2015 nuclear deal to helpsave the floundering economy.

But ever since the US withdrawal he has been underincreasing criticism from his political opponents both for mismanagement of theeconomy as well as his perceived gullibility in trusting the US in the nucleardeal.

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