The IMF said Tehran’s programme of economic reform was welcome but needed to be accelerated. However, some members of the newly conservative Majlis (parliament) are hoping to rework the new five-year development plan (FYDP) that was proposed by President Khatami’s reformist government.

The reformist Majlis approved the plan before the end of its term, but the hardline Guardian Council rejected it and the conservative Expediency Council returned it to parliament. In mid-June, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei said Iran should not follow the World Bank and IMF models as it restructures.

‘We rarely had major disagreements on the objectives or the policy,’ said the IMF’s Abelali Jbili after finishing the Article IV consultations. ‘Sometimes we may have differences on the pace.’

Iran’s fourth FYDP is to focus on privatisation in the banking sector – including the start-up of foreign bank branches in the country. It has also opened up the possibility of structural changes to the buyback contracts offered to foreign companies in the oil sector.

Jbili said the current account could record a small deficit in 1383 from a modest surplus of $1,000 million in 1382. He said little progress was expected on reducing inflation of about 15 per cent in the coming year without major cuts in government spending.