World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran launched a fresh bid on Monday to stabilise its falling currency, opening a foreign exchange centre that provides government-subsidised U.S. dollars to import some goods as the country struggles with Western economic sanctions.
The rial's street value has tumbled by more than half in the last year because of U.S. and European sanctions against Iran's oil and banking sectors, which have cast doubt on the central bank's ability to defend its currency.
Iranians have rushed to informal money changers to convert their savings into hard currencies, driving down the rial's open-market value. This has raised the price of imported goods, contributing to double-digit inflation.
The new foreign exchange centre allows importers of goods including truck tyres, construction equipment and synthetic fibres to buy dollars at a rate 2 percent cheaper than the street rate at any given time.
The government plans to use revenues from petrochemical sales and 14.5 percent of its oil revenues to provide dollars for the centre, central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani said on Sunday, according to the newspaper Aftab. He did not give an absolute figure for the amount of dollars to be supplied.
"With the distribution of currency in this centre, the exchange rate in the market will go down, because some of the demand (for dollars) will be met in this centre and the pressure of demand will be removed," Bahmani was quoted as saying.
The dollar sold for 24,040 rials at the centre on Monday, the Iranian Students' News Agency said, compared to about 24,600 on the open market at around the same time, according to currency-tracking website Mesghal.
The foreign exchange centre is the latest in a series of plans floated by the government in the last three months to address a burgeoning currency crisis, for which legislative foes of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have blamed his administration.
The government maintains an official "reference" rate of 12,260 rials to the dollar, but only a limited amount of foreign exchange is available at this rate.
Iran's oil sales, its chief source of hard currency, have plummeted this year as a result of the sanctions, and legislators accused the central bank earlier this month of not injecting enough dollars into the market, thereby contributing to a fresh fall in the rial.
The foreign exchange centre appears to have replaced a previous plan to establish a currency trading market, a proposal that was fiercely criticised by the private sector, which said the scheme would simply introduce yet another rate for the rial and bring more chaos to the economy.
Country of origin labels are currently voluntary in the European Union and many of the bloc's governments want to keep it that way
While reverse flows would help cushion the effects of a Russian export cut during mild-demand summer months, analysts say they would not be sufficient in winter.
The tanker, Aegean Dignity, is due to take its load to Italy, the NOC quoted an oil official as saying in a statement on its website
TAP aims at enhancing the security of natural gas supply as well as diversification of gas supplies for the European markets.
Charlie Shrem, 24, was arrested in January and stepped down as vice president of the Bitcoin Foundation, a well-known trade group, soon after.
The religious endowments minister has ordered mosques not to run air conditioners before May 15 and after that date to use air conditioning only during prayer time
Most foreign workers in the construction and oil industries come from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, while many domestic workers are from Indonesia and the Philippines
Lukoil has been decreasing its stake in Caspian Investment Resources Ltd, to share the costs at the projects, which require extensive financing.
Israel, which occupied the West Bank in a 1967 war, controls the airwaves of the territory, and Palestinian firms' lack of 3G is a constraint on its technology sector while Israel's soars
The hryvnia has lost about 38 percent of its value against the dollar since the beginning of the year due to the conflict with Russia.
The Austrian justice ministry said "numerous" persons were being investigated over money-laundering and other crimes, including former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his son Oleksii.
Ali Majedi, Iran's deputy oil minister for international affairs and trade, said Moscow and Tehran would struggle to agree such a deal.
Trade, Industry and Investment Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour cast the restrictions on air conditioners as a part of the government plan to cut energy use
As tensions increase between Russia and Ukraine, crude oil prices rise to a two-week high of $108.35 per barrel on Monday.
If all goes well, the latest developments could see first pipelines being laid between Israel and Turkey as soon as 2015
Ashraf al-Arabi, Egypt's minister of planning and international cooperation, this week said the decision on raising gasoline prices will be taken "very soon," but declined to provide further details.