EghtesadOnline: The Iranian media have been reporting for the past week that changes in the economic team of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration are expected, after forex, gold coin and housing woes intensified.
Central Bank of Iran Governor Valiollah Seif is widely expected to be replaced when his five-year term ends in a matter of weeks. He took the helm of the monetary regulator in August 2013.
Seif is mainly under fire over Iran’s currency crisis of the past few months. Foreign exchange prices have been continuously rallying and Iran’s rial reached a nadir of 90,000 rials for each US dollar last week. When he took office, the rate hovered around 30,000 rials, according to Financial Tribune.
On April 17, a week after the government unified foreign exchange rates to prevent the further slide of rial, Seif addressed calls for his resignation, especially one by the head of Majlis Economic Commission Mohammad Reza Pour-Ebrahimi.
“I personally welcome Mr. Pour-Ebrahimi’s proposal and personally welcome it if the president were to induct someone deserving to lead the central bank,” he said, adding that calls like this run counter to the very concept of central bank’s independence that is advocated by the likes of Pour-Ebrahimi.
On the other hand, incumbent Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian’s name also appears among top economic officials expected to leave office in the foreseeable future.
In an interview with Sazandegi newspaper published on Saturday, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri confirmed that changes will be made in the top echelons of the government.
“A reshuffle in the government will be in response to public demand and I believe that the president will make some changes in the government soon,” he said.
“Changes in the Cabinet are usually positive,” he added, welcoming changes that “can bestow the government with a new potential and will”.
No official has so far specifically confirmed that Seif or Karbasian will leave office, nor have any likely replacements been named. The Persian newspaper Etemad in an article last week claimed that Ali Tayyebnia, President Rouhani’s former economy minister and an award-winning economist, is the main candidate to replace Seif.
In his interview, the veep also referred to another envisioned Cabinet change that was blocked by the parliament. The government wished to divide three ministries of Industries, Mining and Trade; Sports and Youth; and Roads and Urban Development and preferably inject young blood into the administration. The initiative was voted down by lawmakers.
“If that bill had been approved, the president could have made further changes simultaneously,” Jahangiri said.