12 Jul 2013 11:19

BAKU (Azerbaijan), July 4 (Bernama) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his government's economic management during a live TV interview with IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) Channel 1, Azerbaijan's Trend news agency reported.

He said that Iran's foreign exchange and gold reserves hit above US$100 billion, while the National Development Fund holds above US$50 billion reserves and these assets are our gift to the next government.

Ahmadinejad, who would hand over presidency to president-elect Hassan Rohani in few weeks, noted that during his presidency (2005-2013) Iran's economy moved from 22nd to 17th place in the world.

According to him, Iran's steel production rose from 9.7 million tonnes to 24 million tonnes, cement production rose from 33 million tonnes to above 80 million tonnes, and ceramic and tile production rose from 186 million tonnes to 380 million tonnes.

He added that from 1997 to 2004 the amount of industrial investment hit up to 210 trillion rials (US$17.1 billion), but in 2004 to 2013, the figures reached up to 1,150 trillion rials (US$93.6 billion).

Ahmadinejad also underlined that a privatisation amount in Iran before this presidency (1979 to 2004) totaled 28 trillion rials, but this figure during his two-term presidency was 1, 119 trillion rials.

According to him, the amount foreign direct investment from 1979 to 2004 was US$12.92 billion, but during his eight years presidency, the amount stood at US$25 billion, adding that the country's foreign debts decreased from US$41.853 billion to US$14.373 billion during his presidency.

However, despite Ahmadinejad repeatedly protected his government's economic performance, his critics said that he is responsible for about 70 per cent of the economic problems in Iran.

His legacy for Rohani includes a 1.9 per cent economic contraction in 2012, over three million unemployed citizens, 40 per cent closed industrial unions, US$400 billion debts, a US$60 billion deficit in last year's budget based on the dollar's official rate in Iran, 32 per cent inflation, halved crude oil export and a drop in the value of the national currency by 40 per cent in 2012, alongside blocked of US$100 billion worth of assets in foreign countries.