Foreign Currency

Iran Faces Severe Medicine Shortage and Lack of Government Funding

The Health and Treatment Commission of Iranian regime’s Majlis (parliament) recently released a report highlighting the dire situation of medicine availability in the country. According to the report presented on April 23, nearly 150 essential drugs are facing shortages and severe limitations, with approximately 65 of them experiencing acute scarcity.

The commission urged for legal action to address its findings, but members of the regime’s Majlis opposed referring the matter to the judiciary, with the majority preferring to keep it within the legislative branch.

Another aspect of the report addresses the failure of the Organization of Planning and Budget to reconcile the preferential exchange rate (42,000 rials) with the NIMA system rate (the currency allocated for managing and promoting the country’s imports and exports) over the past two years, resulting in a staggering debt of 840 trillion rials (approximately $1.3125 billion) to the Central Bank. Currently, the exchange rate for the dollar in Iranian markets stands at 640,000 rials.

Furthermore, the report states, “The Central Bank, under the pretext of effective cooperation in allocating foreign currency and providing the necessary liquidity for the pharmaceutical industry through facilities, has avoided such cooperation.”

Nevertheless, with 67 votes in favor, 137 against, and 8 abstentions out of 225 representatives present, the regime’s parliament rejected the application of Article 234 (referring government violations to the judiciary).

Over the past two years, numerous reports have highlighted the challenges in securing foreign currency for importing raw materials for medicine production or medicine itself. On April 22, a member of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce stated that economic actors have been awaiting currency allocations for over five months, but the Central Bank has not provided them.

The Central Bank’s refusal to provide foreign currency for importing medicine comes at a time when, despite promises from the regime’s President Ebrahim Raisi to halt borrowing from the Central Bank, official statistics show that the government’s debt to this institution increased by approximately 27% in 2022 and surged again by 56% in 2023.

Kaveh Zargaran, a member of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce’s representatives, stated on Monday, April 22, that economic actors have been waiting for currency allocations for over five months, yet the Central Bank has not granted them.”

The Iranian regime has often attributed the country’s medicine crisis to U.S. sanctions, claiming that the sanctions target “ordinary people.” However, imports of humanitarian items, including medicine, are exempt from sanctions.

Trading and smuggling pharmaceutical and medical items remain highly profitable, with regime-linked entities selling drugs at exorbitant prices in the free market while medicines are scarce in pharmacies, leaving people struggling to access essential medication.

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