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Iran’s Supreme Audit Court to prosecute ministers over price hikes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows a view to the headquarters of Iran’s Supreme Audit Court (SAC) in northern Tehran.

Iran’s Supreme Audit Court (SAC), the highest financial supervisory authority in the country, has summoned two Cabinet ministers to ask for explanations about rising prices of staples in the country.

Iran’s Mehr news agency said on Monday that minister of agriculture Kazem Khavazi and minister of trade Alireza Razm Hosseini should attend an upcoming SAC hearing to answer questions on a steep rise in the prices of food and staples in the domestic market in recent weeks.

The report said ministers are accused of “inaction” in controlling the prices of certain food items, saying prosecutors in the court believed the failure had led to sustenance difficulties for the Iranian public.

Summoning ministers for a personal hearing in the SAC, a subsidiary organ of the Iranian parliament with the power to prosecute, is a rarity in Iran where ministers normally attend committee hearing in the parliament to answer questions raised by the lawmakers.  

Price of chicken has soared in recent weeks in Iran.

The development comes as prices of chicken and cooking oil have increased exorbitantly in recent weeks in Iran, leading to reported shortages in some parts of the country.

The administration of President Hassan Rouhani has shouldered part of the blame for the price hike as government authorities insist that a failure in the parliament to approve the creation of a ministry exclusively responsible for trade is also to blame.

Khavazi and Razm Hosseini have repeatedly claimed they have no sufficient mandate to regulate the market and supervise staple food distribution mechanisms.

The SAC said it decided to prosecute the ministers after their deputies failed to provide satisfactory explanations about the price hikes during a Monday meeting with SAC chief.

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