The Persian New Year, Nowruz, is days away. Unlike its meaning, the “New Day,” Iranians are forced to continue suffering from the country’s financial calamity.
The eerie silence of Iranian markets ahead of Nowruz echoes the anxious wait of shop owners for customers who never come. At the same time, the destitute can only afford to borrow half of the symbolic “Haft Sin” items for a fleeting glimpse of prosperity.
The Persian Year of 1401 was the darkest year for Iranians regarding the misery index. The country’s economy suffered from an above-50% inflation rate, the highest in the last four decades.
“The actual inflation is above 60-70%. The inflation rate increases hourly, making measuring inflation and its effect on society difficult,” wrote the state-run Tejarat News on March 3.
While Iranian officials and regime-linked pundits abroad try to blame Iran’s economic crunch on sanctions, the tightly controlled state media and their engineered statistics bring the real culprit of the current crisis to the spotlight: the ruling theocracy.
Covering the Budget Deficit From the People’s Pockets
The clerical regime uses covert and overt methods to plunder Iranians. Facing a nationwide uprising and sensing its imminent downfall, the regime has dug its hands deeper into people’s pockets. Ebrahim Raisi’s government has accelerated banknote printing to cover its huge budget deficit.
On December 20, the state-run Hammihan daily quoted Abdolnasser Hemmati, the former Central Bank Chief, as acknowledging that Raisi’s government has printed 1.2 quadrillion rials in banknotes in less than nine months. Coupled with Iran’s low production rate, banknote printing has increased liquidity, causing inflation to skyrocket.
Besides, by trying to cover their budget deficit through money printing, the mullahs cause the dollar exchange rate to fluctuate more. By having several official and unofficial exchange rates, the regime allows its affiliates to import essential products at a lower price and sell it more expensively to people. The unbalanced market and the high inflation rate keep people under the poverty line.
“The misery index, inflation multiplied by unemployment, has reached 49.4 percent in 2022 from 19.3 in 2017; This means a 256% increase,” wrote the state-run Bahar News on March 15.
“The 50% inflation increases the exchange rate grows. During former President Hassan Rouhani’s tenure, with 25% inflation, the dollar price multiplied by seven. Now inflation hovers above 50%, and the exchange rate will increase 26 times at the end of Raisi’s term. As a result, in a few years, the dollar price will be 6.5 million rials. We are only steps away from a complete economic collapse,” the state-run Eghtesad website wrote on March 15.
The regime has not stopped manipulating the exchange rate to resolve its 50-quadrillion-rial budget deficit. They’ve gone the extra mile and increased the prices of all of the essential items such as water, electricity, gas, and bus and subway tickets multiple times. For instance, the ruling kleptocracy increased the gas price from 410 rials to a staggering 60,000 rials per cubic meter in the middle of February’s freezing weather. This was a 150-fold increase in the price of gas.
Wages Continue to Dwindle
Meanwhile, the Iranian people, especially workers, can hardly make ends meet, and officials refrain from increasing their wages.
“The workers’ minimum salary, which was around $253 dollars at the beginning of 2022, reached $122 dollars after 11 months,” the state-run Sharq daily wrote on March 9.
According to Iran’s state media and economists, the poverty line is roughly 300 million rials (approx. $640).
“Some analysts have estimated the poverty line in the country to be around 300 million rials for each household due to inflation pressure. According to official statistics, the poverty line in 2022 was, on average, 28 million rials for each person in the country, or roughly 80 million rials for a family of four,” the state-run Asia daily wrote on March 11.
“Last year, the minimum living costs of workers increased to 80 million rials. Yet, the salary with benefits barely reaches 68 million rials while the living costs have increased by 100%. Thus, even a 100% salary raise wouldn’t help workers to live under the poverty line,” wrote the semi-official ILNA News Agency on March 9.
The rapid freefall of Iran’s economy and people’s deplorable situation is indeed common knowledge. Seeing their demise on the horizon, the ayatollahs have stepped up their plundering, as they need every penny to fund their oppressive and terrorist apparatus. The clerical regime’s existence depends on more violence and more plundering of the nation, as the prosperity of Iran and its citizens comes once the regime is gone. The latter will be the real Nowruz for Iranians.