On January 30, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, complained about the country’s economic crunch, blaming government officials, directly or indirectly appointed by him, for the country’s rising inflation rate.
Khamenei’s remarks stood in stark contrast with his previous claims of “economic resilience,” confirming that the regime’s claim of self-reliance is a mirage.
“If government officials had cooperated more in the last few years, we could have achieved more glories,” Khamenei claimed. But he quickly reversed himself by saying, “Of course, the macroeconomic statistics of the 2010s are relatively unsatisfactory. The statistics and the rise in the GDP, capital formation, inflation, liquidity growth, housing, machinery supply, and similar issues are not satisfactory. The impact on people’s livelihood about which we are constantly concerned is rooted in these issues and facts.”
Despite the efforts by the regime’s apologists to imply that Iran’s wretched economic crises are due to sanctions, Khamenei acknowledged that “the main cause of these crises are not the sanctions. Wrongheaded decisions and failing to act play an important part in creating these problems.”
The state-run media acknowledged some facts about Iran’s miserable financial situation and people’s hardships. “The Central Bank released indicators of Iran’s economy in the second quarter of the year. The data presented in this report confirm the slowdown in economic growth in that period,” the state-run Jahan-e Sanat on January 13.
According to Jahan-e Sanat, “A comparison of the liquidity rate in recent years indicates that the total volume of liquidity has grown by 166 percent from 2018 to the end of September this year.”
“The main reason is that the government has always resorted to the central bank to compensate for its budget deficit. According to statistics, the government debt to the central bank had steady growth throughout last year, reaching 50.8% at the end of 2021,” the paper added.
“Although the Central Bank has not announced inflation statistics since 2019, according to the Center for Inflation Statistics, it still hovers above 40%.”
Iran’s unemployment rate is also soaring.
“The unemployment rate is 9.6 percent in the second quarter of 2021. It has increased by 0.8 percent since the spring,” Jahan-e Sanat adds.
“Based on the total unemployment rate and inflation this summer, the misery index is 55.4%, an increase of 9.3% and 6.3% compared to last winter and this spring, respectively,” Jahan-e Sanat acknowledged.
In other words, millions of Iranians cannot have a decent life and are under the poverty line.
While people can hardly earn a living, the regime affiliates and relatives enjoy lavish lives. News and photos of luxurious houses and expensive cars of regime officials circulate online, simultaneous with heart-wrenching videos of Iranian child laborers scavenging garbage cans for food.
“Embezzlements, corruption, astronomical salaries [of officials], and the construction of luxury towers send their message to society. [Officials’] putting their luxurious lives on display, the humiliation of the poor, and indirect or direct of their superiority over others is scarring people’s souls,” wrote the state-run Etemad daily on February 1.
“Class gap is raging in the country. A wealthy class in the highest welfare conditions has such an aristocratic life that they can be compared to Aristotle Onassis and the Rockefeller family. The poor live in challenging situations like first Muslims did (1,400 years ago)” wrote the state-run Jomhuri Eslami daily on February 2.
Khamenei wastes the national resources and wealth on terrorism and domestic oppression. While squandering people’s assets to preserve his regime, he sheds crocodile tears for Iran’s worsening economic indicators.
Besides, the regime has not taken any serious economic measures to address people’s needs. In fact, at the behest of Khamenei, Ebrahim Raisi’s government intends to dispense with the official exchange rate allocated for importing essential goods at a lower price. Hassan Rouhani’s government first introduced the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials to a dollar to import essential goods at a lower price. The private sector, i.e., private companies of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), was tasked with importing these goods. As a result, regime officials embezzled billions of dollars while selling essential items at a higher price. Yet, removing this rate will cause the costs to skyrocket.
The regime’s parliament rejected Raisi’s plan for removing the official exchange rate in his budget plan, fearing a popular backlash. But, apparently, Raisi and his government will not back down from reaching deeper into people’s pockets.
Iran’s current economic crises, caused by the regime’s ineptitude, corruption, and mismanagement, have turned the society into a powder keg. Daily protests by people from all walks of life attest to this explosiveness. The recent nationwide protest by teachers, pledging to “Continue protests to achieve” their rights, is quite telling.
Facing a restive society, Khamenei, who is himself responsible for this disastrous situation, speaks of economic crisis as part of his smoke and mirrors policy to divert people’s attention from the real source of corruption, namely, the ruling kleptocracy he heads. Yet, people’s slogans against the entire regime indicate that Khamenei has failed and other uprisings loom, as the state-run media and officials continue to warn about.
“The cry of the army of unemployed, bankrupted factories, frustrated social security, and collapsing banks, is loud and clear,” the state-run Mostaghel daily wrote on January 31.
“When corruption is institutionalized, serious social upheavals are inevitable,” Mostaghel wrote, quoting Mohammad Askari, one of the regime’s MPs.