EghtesadOnline: Tehran’s Grand Bazaar showed signs of returning to normal on Tuesday. On the same day, Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani denounced as “treason against the state and nation” the opportunistic move by some elements to agitate the market, saying severe punishment awaits those behind such disruption to the country’s economy.
The top judge acknowledged that the recent turbulence in the country’s gold, currency, automobile and housing markets is partly due to a surge in cash injection, but described the crisis as a psychological issue that is being engineered by enemies of Iran, Tasnim News Agency reported.
His comments came the day after business owners shuttered their shops at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar to show their frustration with the deteriorating economic situation (fluctuating prices, rial’s depreciation and the recently released list of banned imports). Protestors marched through the bazaar’s corridors and then toward Baharestan Square near the Iranian Parliament.
By Tuesday, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture news outlet reported that Tehran’s Grand Bazaar is returning to normalcy, while a number of shops in other parts of the city, including gold jewelry shops located in downtown Karimkhan Street, remained closed, according to Financial Tribune.
Monday’s protests were orchestrated by forces outside the country, said President of Iran’s Chamber of Guilds Ali Fazeli.
“Of course we do not deny the existence of some problems but moves like this are in line with the wishes of Iran’s enemies and we don’t approve of them,” he added.
Mohammad Azad, the head of Iron and Steel Association, told the Persian daily Iran that the main cause of the merchants’ protest rally is that they are worried about how to restock after selling their products in view of the rise in dollar’s value.
“Also, to control smuggling, the government has required shopkeepers to provide documents from the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration on the originality of their products. The government is fully entitled to rely on these assurances,” he said.
“Fearing for their lives and financial security, shopkeepers were forced to shutter their shops as they were threatened by a mob of demonstrators. What Tehran’s Grand Bazaar wants is the stability of currency exchange rate for at least two months. Daily changes in the prices of products do not allow businesses to function properly.”
On Monday, Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari met with representatives of guilds and unions, and ordered four committees to be set up to address the problems of guilds such as customs clearance of goods.
The minister likened the present economic problems to those of wartime, saying that patience is necessary to stay away from this pressure.
The relative economic stability has been one of the biggest achievements of President Hassan Rouhani since his coming to office in 2013. But in the last few months, the economy has been shaken by the dollar’s surge against the rial.
The rial’s downward spiral comes amid fears over the return of economic sanctions after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement last month.
The deal, signed between Tehran and six world powers, saw Tehran significantly scale back its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of international economic sanctions.
Iranians anxious about their assets losing value have attempted to buy foreign currencies like dollars and euros as well as gold, which in turn led to a rise in money supply.
“There is no palpable shortage of goods or foreign currency or rials,” President Rouhani said on Tuesday, pledging that people will have no problem in procuring their basic needs.
“Commodities, including wheat, sugar, cooking oil and sugar, are being produced or have been stored in sufficient quantity. There is no cause for concern,” he said, stressing that all basic and essential products will continue to be imported.