Iran’s Budget Bill: Poverty for People, More Money for IRGC

Written by
Moussa Afshar

The Iranian regime’s parliament hastily approved the generalities of which many experts consider an “unrealistic” budget bill by Ebrahim Raisi’s government.

In his litany of lies on Monday in defense of his budget bill, Raisi claimed that “all budget indicators show positive economic growth. Including 4% economic growth, a 5% increase in production tools, a 7% growth of the industry’s added value, a 17% increase in trade and 19% in non-oil exports, and a 70% growth of knowledge-based companies.”

Like Don Quixote, who fought the imaginary monster and won, Raisi ranted about conquering Iran’s economic crises, such as reducing the inflation by 19%, only to be called out by the handpicked MPs! In addition, even the engineered statistics by various state institutions and officials debunk this bogus claim.

“According to Iran’s Statistic Center, the inflation rate in December reached 45%, seeing a one percent increase since November,” the state-run Sharq daily wrote on January 17. On Monday, MP Naser Mousavi Largani acknowledged that due to the severe budget deficit, the inflation might surpass 60%, according to the state-run Shafaqna website on January 23. So, the inflation rate, which Raisi had ridiculously ordered to decrease in summer, continues to increase.

Raisi blatantly claimed to have created over a million jobs, decreasing the unemployment rate, and his budget bill has no deficit. He also claimed that his government has refrained from borrowing money from the Central Bank, despite the country’s rising liquidity rate, which points to an increasing amount of banknote printing. Since Iran’s production rate is less than 3%, the enormous amount of liquidity only increases inflation.

Raisi’s claims fell flat on his face minutes after when other MPs acknowledged the regime’s absolute bankruptcy.

“The figures you presented starkly contrast the reality in society. These unemployment, inflation, and job creation statistics are not true,” MP Mojtaba Mahfoozi said on Monday in Majlis’ public session.

“Based on our research, the budget bill has a five quadrillion rials deficit,” Mousavi Largani said in his remarks. In other words, Raisi’s government has a deficit of roughly $11 billion, based on the free market rate.

“According to our statistics and reports, the government’s debt to banks has increased by 1.5 quadrillion rials [$3 billion]. This is a huge unbalance,” Shafaqna quoted Mohammad-Reza Pour Ebrahimi, Chairman of the Parliament’s Economic Commission.

The regime’s budget bill for 2023-2024 lacks any meaningful resources. Raisi has increased taxes by 66% in a bid to generate income. So Iranian people should shoulder this significant tax increase while many of them live far below the poverty line, according to the regime’s reports.

Another source of income for the 2023-2024 budget is exporting at least a million barrels of oil per day at an $85 rate. This is another bogus claim, as the oil market fluctuates a year after the Covid-19 pandemic and as the war in Ukraine continues. Besides, state corruption and international sanctions on Tehran aggravate this situation. “Your income figures are unrealistic. How could you sell oil at $85 per barrel when Russia sells its better-quality oil at $60 per barrel,” MP Alireza Pakfetrat told Raisi on Monday.

Raisi’s lies were not limited to his government’s budget resources. He concealed that the 2023-2024 budget bill features a skyrocketing budget for the regime’s military apparatus, while the Ministries of Health and Education have a meager budget.

In his speech, Raisi didn’t refer to how the budget’s lion’s share goes to the regime’s security apparatus and institutions under the supreme leader’s supervision, which are also exempt from taxes.

For the next fiscal year beginning in March 2023, Raisi’s budget bill includes a whopping 131% increase for the IRGC from roughly $1.24 billion to about $2.89 billion. It is important to note that the IRGC has both official and “unofficial” income streams since it dominates the country’s economy.

This bill increases the budgets of the police force by 44%, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security by 52%, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) by 42%, and the Foundation for the Protection of Sacred Defense by 159%.

Meanwhile, the bill sets a minimum wage of 70 million rials per month or $171 per month. According to the regime’s Ministry of Labor, the poverty line is roughly 150 million rials or $341 per month.  Besides, Iranians are deprived of any social and state medical aid.

“The healthcare system suffers more, as it gets only a one percent budget increase. The income source of this budget is also very vague, supposedly coming from managing subsidies,” MP Masoud Pezeshkian acknowledged on Monday.

“In its budget bill, in a strange move, the government has removed the special line for the’ Comprehensive law for the protection of the rights of the disabled,’” the state-run Resalat daily wrote on January 23.

Iran’s nationwide uprising has entered its fifth month, posing an existential threat to the regime and rattling its foundation. The regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, didn’t select Raisi as president to address Iran’s economic or social crisis. The regime’s main objective is to preserve its rule at any cost, and Raisi and his cabinet are bereft of any meaningful solution to the country’s economic crunch, except for some ridiculous acts like ordering the prices to stop skyrocketing!

After over 40 years of corruption and destroying Iran’s economy, Iranian people have lost hope in this regime as they have chanted in their last four months of uprisings, “Poverty, corruption, high prices, we continue until regime’s downfall.” The world community shouldn’t follow the mirage of appeasement and support the revolution in the making in Iran.

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