Iraq government flays top bank on forex sales
Iraq's Finance Ministry has criticised the central bank for allegedly failing to check foreign exchange sales, but the bank rejected the charges as politically motivated following elections.
In a rare public squabble, the ministry said Central Bank of Iraq figures for daily sales of $021 million in foreign exchange to import commodities and food did not match amounts imported.
"This calls for additional efforts to know the real amounts allocated to import foodstuffs and commodities, where the Central Bank of Iraq and private banks are responsible for making such checks," the ministry said in a Thursday statement.
The ministry's customs unit made its findings after verifying data with the audit office, it said.
However, the central bank said the complaint had "suspicious motives" that clashed with the audit office's usual neutrality.
"What is going on reflects a deliberate politicisation that takes advantage of the political transition the country is going through to bring on economic upheaval," it said in a Saturday statement.
The central bank did not elaborate on alleged political interference.
Iraq is facing a lengthy period of political horse-trading to form a government after March 7 elections failed to produce a clear winner.
The central bank, Finance Ministry and audit office have separate political roots.
The ministry is controlled by the government, parliament controls the audit agency and the central bank is independent.
Iraqis had hoped that last month's vote would stabilise the country after years of war.
A cross-sectarian coalition led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi won two seats more than the mostly Shi'ite Muslim State of Law bloc headed by Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki.
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