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TEHRAN, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Iran’s annual inflation rate fell by almost four percentage points to 9.3 percent in September, continuing a rapid downward trend in the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, central bank figures showed on Tuesday.
The official year-on-year rate declined from 13.1 percent in August and from a peak of nearly 30 percent late last year.
Easing inflationary pressures could help the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad counter criticism by some lawmakers that a subsidy reform plan now being debated by parliament would stoke price rises and hurt the poor.
The annual rate in the Iranian month of Shahrivar, which ended on Sept 22, declined sharply even though consumer prices rose 0.4 percent from the previous month, the bank said.
If measured as the average rate during the 12 months to Shahrivar compared with the same period the previous year, the inflation rate was 18.5 percent, the central bank said, giving no details.
High inflation was a key issue in campaigning for June’s disputed presidential vote, in which Ahmadinejad won re-election by a landslide. His moderate rivals say the vote was rigged, a charge the authorities reject.
Critics have accused Ahmadinejad of stoking inflation during his first term with profligate spending of petrodollars since he came to power in 2005 pledging to share out Iran’s oil wealth more fairly.
Ahmadinejad has blamed inflation on international energy and food price rises that peaked during 2008 and points to a falling trend since late last year.
Coupled with a lack of jobs, high inflation has been the loudest complaint among many ordinary Iranians in recent years.
Economists have said the declining inflation rate is partly due to a slowing economy as a result of lower crude prices over the last year and the global economic downturn, as well as monetary tightening by the central bank.
The government has introduced a proposal to parliament that would cut subsidies on gasoline, natural gas, water and electricity. Critics say it would stoke price rises, but MPs on Sunday approved the outlines of the bill. (Reporting by Reza Derakshi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Andy Bruce)
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