Iran central banker says no official dollar rate allocated to import medicine

Business Materials 7 May 2013 13:36 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, May.7/ Trend F.Karimov/

Iranian Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani has said that no official dollar rate has been allocated to import medicine, the Mehr News Agency quoted an Iranian MP as saying.

The MP who wanted to remain, added that Bahmani has said the official dollar rate had allocated to import staple foods such as edible oil.

Iran has removed offering the dollar at the official rate of 12,260 rials to medicine importers and will offer the dollar at the Forex Centre rate which is currently around 24,770 rials, the Mehr News Agency quoted Iran heath minister Mohammad-Hassan Tariqat-Monfared as saying.

Iran supplies medicine at the lowest prices in the world, he said.

The measure is in line with the ministry's plans to improve the quality and supply of medicine in the domestic market, he noted.

Some 97 per cent of Iran's required medicine is currently produced domestically, the Fars News Agency quoted Iran's Health Ministry official Hossein Ayati as saying. About 50 per cent of the necessary raw material for producing the medicine is imported.

Last year some $1.7 billion was allocated to import medicine which is not produced inside the country, the official said.

In November 2012, the Health Ministry of Iran called on the Central Bank to earmark $2 billion for importing medicine to cope with the domestic shortage as a result of international sanctions.

An official with the health ministry told the Fars News Agency that the ministry has just started importing $130 million worth of urgently needed medicine.

Mohammad Abdzadeh added that the Central Bank has agreed to allocate $2 billion to the health ministry to import all the needed medicine.

A major portion of the imported medicine will be supplied to patients suffering from cancer and other hard to cure diseases, he noted.

Although the trade in medicine is exempt from international sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and the unilateral sanctions announced by the U.S. and EU, Iranian importers say Western banks have been reluctant to handle it.

The U.S. and EU have placed restrictions on dealings with Iran's Central Bank, the only official channel for Iranians to transfer money abroad and Swift, the body that handles global banking transactions, has cut Iran's banks out of its system.

The government said in July that it had $150b in foreign currency reserves to help cushion the blow of sanctions.

Officials have also sought to step up domestic production of medicine. However it has been limited by subsidy reforms which have increased the cost of fuel and electricity, as well as by shortages of increasingly expensive raw materials.