Iran's USD allocations for medicine imports: numbers don't add up
Dalga Khatinoglu, Trend's Iran News Service Chief
Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb.21 / Trend /
The Spokesman of Iran's Forex Center Samad Karimi said that about $3.1 billion has been allocated to medicine equipments and pharmaceutical imports during current solar year, which started on March 19, Mehr News Agency reported on Thursday.
Karimi said that allocated value indicates 32 percent growth compared to last the solar year.
"About $900 million through common sales and $2.2 billion through agent banks were allocated for importing medical needs," he said.
He went on to say that $2.1 billion of total this value has been allocated during last 6 months.
Karimi's statement came as Iranian government has been criticized due to shortage of vital drugs in the country, increasing the medicine price and avoiding to supply USD for pharmaceutical imports.
Reportedly, Iran's drug shortage partly occurred because of the U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran's banking sector, which has led to cuts of payment transactions.
For instance, the U.S. Commerce Department statistics published on Feb.8 show this country's drug exports to Iran halved in 2012 compared to 2011.
Numbers don't add up
Iranian officials have made statements regarding the allocated USD for medicine and drug imports, however these figures contradict each other.
Director of the Iranian Customs Administration Abbas Memarnejad said on Feb.1 that Iran has imported $1.6 billion worth of medicines and medical equipment in the first nine months of the current Iranian calendar year - about two times less what figure that Karimi announced for eleven months.
The Central Bank of Iran reported on Jan.27 that Iranian banks have allocated 2.8 billion dollars to medicine purchase in the first ten months of current Iranian calendar year, which began on March 20.
On the other hand, head of the Iranian Parliament's Health Committee, Hossein Ali Shahriari, said on November 5, 2012 that in order to meet Iranian patients' demands, some 2.5 billion dollars should be allocated towards medicine purchase by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2013).
Shortage of drugs in Iran has led to significant increase of prices in the country.
According to fifth national development plan, the 70 percent of cost of drugs in the country should be paid by insurance companies, but the caretaker of Health Ministry Mohammad Mohsen tarigat said last month that 60 percent of drug costs is being paid by people.
He said that all medical expenses for current solar year is estimated 500, 000 billion rials, which 300, 000 billion rials has been paid by patients themselves.
The USD official price is 12, 260 rials, while it's sold at 39, 000 in Iran's open market. Iran's national currency has lost about 50 percent of its value during the last 12 months.
The western countries have adopted tight financial sanctions over Iran's oil export and banking sector to curb its sensitive nuclear activities.