Akbar Rafsanjani, who was Iran’s president between 1989 and 1997, criticised Ahmadinejad for failing to carry out Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s wish to privatise the majority of state-owned businesses.

Rafsanjani threatened to use his position as chairman of the Expediency Council, which mediates in disputes between Iran’s parliament and the Guardian Council, to speed up the privatisation programme.

“This means that it is time trial and error comes to an end and we should move forward with a plan and direction using expertise,” said Rafsanjani.

The Iranian government raised just $3.5bn from the sale of state-owned enterprises during the last Iranian year, according to Rabin Rabii, the managing director of Tehran-based fund manager Turquoise Partners (MEED 7:3:08).