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‘Dollar’ texts blocked as Iran rial slides 20%

Rate imposed by country's central bank finds few takers

Image Credit: Supplied
Gulf News

Tehran:  Iran's currency has slid 20 per cent against the dollar in the last week despite central bank intervention, and Iranians concerned about the economy said on Tuesday attempts to send text messages using the word ‘dollar' appeared to be blocked.

The central bank reportedly pumped $200 million (Dh734.6 million) into the market last Wednesday after new and much tougher US sanctions prompted nervous Iranians to change rials into hard currency, accelerating a rise in the price of dollars on the open market.

Saying it would act to stabilise the currency, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) imposed a rate of 14,000 rials to the dollar, up from record lows of around 18,000 rials, but many exchange offices would not sell at that price. Yesterday the dollar price had risen again to around 17,000 rials, according to exchange bureaus, 50 per cent more than the CBI's ‘reference rate' of 11,240 rials. The currency slide is a huge risk for consumer prices in a country where inflation is already around 20 per cent and rising.

In a hint of the political sensitivity, Iranians said they were unable to send text messages containing the word ‘dollar'.

"My colleagues and I tried to text each other in the office and to our surprise we found that texts that included words like ‘dollar' and ‘foreign currency' could not be delivered," said Malek, a 45-year-old government employee.