Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 16:11 UK

Ahmadinejad under fire on economy

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 17 April, 2008
Mr Ahmadinejad's economic policy has come under fire as inflation climbs

Iran's outgoing finance minister has added his voice to mounting criticism of his president's economic policies amid a period of economic difficulty.

Davoud Danesh-Jafari said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government lacked experience and had no solid plans.

He accused Mr Ahmadinejad of giving priority to "peripheral issues" while allowing inflation to reach 18%.

Mr Danesh-Jafari was ousted in a government reshuffle on Tuesday, apparently due to policy differences.

"During my time, there was no positive attitude towards previous experiences or experienced people and there was no plan for the future," Mr Danesh-Jafari was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

"Peripheral issues which were not of dire importance to the nation were given priority."

Rocketing prices

The comments come amid increasing criticism from both reformists, and some fellow conservatives, of the president's economic policies, says the BBC's Pam O'Toole in Tehran.

Davoud Danesh-Jafari, file picture from November, 2007
Mr Danesh-Jafari said Mr Ahmadinejad had prioritised "peripheral issues"

The Iranian press has recently been full of complaints by columnists and politicians about soaring inflation, our correspondent says, with the prices of basic foodstuffs and housing rocketing over the past year.

Mr Ahmadinejad, who is expected to run for a second term as president in next year's elections, has come under fire for financing infrastructure projects by pumping excessive liquidity into the economy which has been blamed for the rising inflation.

Iran's ailing economy will be a major issue in the country's second round of parliamentary elections on Friday, our correspondent says.

Many analysts say that improving the economy will be the most pressing task facing the country's next parliament.

Mr Danesh-Jafari is the sixth minister to have resigned or been fired since Mr Ahmadinejad took office in 2005.

He was replaced at the finance ministry by Hossein Samsami, who was previously head of the government's economic commission.

State media report that Mr Danesh-Jafari has been appointed as the president's adviser for economic affairs, but observers say the post carries little weight.

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