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Iran’s finance minister impeached as sanctions bite

Iran’s finance minister impeached as sanctions bite

Iranian MPs engage in discussions while the economy minister speaks during a parliamentary session in Tehran on August 26, 2018, before a vote that saw Masoud Karbasian impeached. Photo: AFP / Atta Kenare

 

Published in Asia Times, Aug 27th, 2018 By ALISON TAHMIZIAN MEUSE

A majority of parliament voted for the minister’s ouster, dealing the latest blow to President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate government

Iran’s parliament on Sunday voted to impeach the minister of economic affairs and finance, Masoud Karbasian, amid economic turmoil and frustration over the handling of US sanctions.

“Lack of transparency in the Iranian economy, the problems caused after fluctuations in the exchange rates of foreign currencies and disorder in the banking system were among the top areas of criticism against the minister,” Mehr News Agency reported.

A majority of the 200-member parliament voted for the minister’s ouster, dealing the latest blow to President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate government.

Earlier this month, Iran’s minister of cooperatives, labor and social welfare lost a vote of confidence. On July 25, Rouhani was compelled to name a new central-bank governor as the country’s currency faltered.

Rouhani will face a grilling on Tuesday, when parliament is set to question him.

 

“The questions will mainly revolve around the country’s current economic situation and the government’s policies to control the depreciation of the rial against foreign currencies, as well as foreign-currencies smuggling, economic recession, and banking sanctions,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

Iran is reeling from the exit of the United States from the 2015 nuclear accord, which was meant to be a centerpiece achievement that would usher in a new era of trade and investment for the long-isolated country. Instead, Tehran has found itself facing uncompromising new sanctions ordered by US President Donald Trump.

Rouhani’s government has called on Europe to stand up to US unilateralism and continue doing business with Iran. European officials have made similar calls for economic workarounds, but their multinationals have not shown any appetite for risk.

Over the past week, the French oil giant Total pulled out of the Islamic Republic, while major airlines British Airways, KLM and Air France announced they would be suspending service to Tehran in September.

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