Iran’s Rouhani Government has said that it may use crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin to salvage the economy, amid mounting internal problems and expanding US sanctions.
Communications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi said on Wednesday that President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the Central Bank to hold a joint meeting with Ministries to advance the project.
Jahromi said necessary studies have been carried out, and the Bank and Information Ministry will confer next week.
He said the Bank still considers the use of digital currencies illegal and has asked the judiciary to shut down websites carrying out trade. However, Jahromi added, “A new attitude that has been created in the government is that the digital money does not necessarily pose a security threat and can create opportunities for the country.”
The Minister has already invited Iranian technology experts to participate in the tender of Post Bank, which is focused on e-banking infrastructure.
The Government has been struggling with long-term issues of productivity, trade, investment, finance, and environmental damage. The problems have been compounded by US sanctions, including a significant expansion implemented on Monday following the American withdrawal in May from the 2015 nuclear deal.
The fragile Iranian currency has begun to slide again, with the rial now standing at 101,000:1 vs. the US dollar.
The latest economic crisis has been spurred by a 55% fall in the value of the rial since January, including a 35% drop over 48 hours in late July. The currency sank as low as 119,000:1 before Government measures brought a recovery to 93,500:1 on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Government abandoned the unified rate of 42,000:1 against the dollar. The discounted rate is still being given to importers, exporters, and travellers, with authorities hoping to control the open-market level.
Parliament Dismisses Labor Minister
The Iranian Majlis dismissed Labor Minister Ali Rabiei on Wednesday, in a session with claims of corruption, bribery, blackmail, embezzlement, and mishandling of public funds.
Rabiei and MPs traded accusations during the impeachment session until Speaker Ali Larijani stopped the debate and sent journalists out of the chamber for 30 members. The heated exchanges continued after the break.
Larijani said after the vote dismissing the Minister, “Although accusations are common practice in the Islamic Republic, the Majlis would probe into the charges the two sides made against each other.”
Rabiei, who avoided dismissal by one vote last year, was confronted by allegations of “grafting” and “buying support”. He responded that some MPs had tried to blackmail him, demanding cash or high positions for their relatives.