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Iran’s State Media Fact Checking: In Raisi’s Two Years Term Lies Outpaced Actions

iran money exchange economy

  • Building 4 million homes in 4 years, equating to one million homes per year
  • Creating 4 million jobs in 4 years, amounting to one million jobs per year
  • Single-digit inflation
  • Controlling price hikes
  • Aligning people’s wages with inflation
  • Combating corruption
  • Implementing a ranking system for teachers
  • Providing free internet for low-income segments of society
  • Reducing healthcare costs by 50%
  • Transforming the banking system structure
  • Reducing the dependency of essential goods on foreign exchange rates

These were the pledges Ebrahim Raisi made both before and after being chosen as the favored candidate of the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader in 2021 to lead the executive branch in a period of turbulence, which indicated a likelihood of increased international isolation and domestic unrest for the regime.

After two years, Khamenei is now the sole supporter of the government’s performance. During a meeting with members of Raisi’s government on August 30, Khamenei said, “We’ve assisted all administrations, but with this government, I not only want to offer our assistance but also commend it. The government’s performance in these past two years deserves our recognition and praise.”

However, in the same speech, Khamenei criticized Raisi’s government for inadequately publicizing its own performance. He stated, “Unfortunately, the government’s communication is weak. That means no fundamental work is done to inform the public. Having someone come on television and talk, and report about [the government’s] accomplishments, does not qualify as apprising. Apprising is an art. Artful work needs to be done for proper appraisal.”

While the clerical regime is not known for its transparency or reliance on statistics, due to the conflicting interests between the various factions and the exposure made by their affiliated media outlets, some of Raisi and Khamenei’s lies can be discerned. By uncovering these contradictions, one can gain insight into the challenges faced by the Iranian people and the resulting socio-political consequences.

One Million Housing Units

Since the start of his presidency, Ebrahim Raisi made a bold claim of building one million housing units each year. From the outset, many state-affiliated media and experts questioned and even ridiculed this statement.

On October 6, 2021, Rostam Qasemi, the then Minister of Roads and Urban Development in Raisi’s cabinet, announced, “The construction of 2 million residential units has begun.”

However, in less than a year, on July 25, Rostam Qasemi distanced himself from his previous statement, stating, “Does building one million homes per year mean delivering one million homes per year? In reality, this is not feasible. Starting in the first year with all the necessary land acquisition, designs, and so on… to be able to deliver one million units in the first year is not feasible.”

In response to critics, Raisi has constantly defended his stance in the regime’s parliament on June 18 by stating, “We are not only stating that the country needs one million housing units, which is also a legal resolution passed by the parliament to boost housing production, but it’s also a promise we’ve made.”

While in the past two years, many state officials and experts have frequently emphasized the construction of one million homes under Raisi’s leadership, the exorbitant cost in the construction industry indicates that Raisi has taken minimal practical measures in this regard. In 2021, while Raisi’s government claimed it wanted to control housing prices, housing prices increased by 200 to 300 percent.

In the year 1400 (2021-2022), the average housing price was 30 million tomans. However, now it has soared to over 92 million tomans, which is more than three times the previous cost. In Tehran, the price per square meter of housing is 2,130 US dollars, equivalent to 106 million tomans.

Rental prices have also dramatically increased, leading to various forms of homelessness becoming prevalent in the country. Homelessness has taken eight common forms in Iran, including sleeping on rooftops, in engine rooms, in cars, in graves, on buses, house-sharing, makeshift shelter occupations, and multiple families living in a single residential unit.

The Donyaye Eghtesad newspaper wrote about the housing crisis, “The homeownership expectancy index in the year 2005 was equivalent to 22 years, which has now increased to 112 years for people living in Tehran. In essence, housing has become completely out of reach for the middle to lower-income segments of society. Additionally, for the ‘Generation Z,’ born in the late 2000 and beyond, this index is estimated to be around 200 years.”

Furthermore, there are thousands of retirees who have worked for thirty years and who are now homeless, while two and a half million empty houses owned by banks and state-affiliated institutions are scattered in various cities across the country. Hence, the acknowledgment by state-controlled media shows that Raisi’s promise was nothing more than a mirage.

Creating One Million Jobs

During the so-called election debates, Ebrahim Raisi promised to create four million jobs in four years. Soulat Mortazavi, the Minister of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare, claimed on August 19 that they had created nearly one million jobs.

Gholamhossein Mansouri, Raisi’s executive deputy, went even further and falsely stated, “Not only did we reduce the unemployment rate, but in some areas, we are also facing a labor shortage.”

Lastly, Ebrahim Raisi couldn’t help himself but intervene, and on August 29, during a meeting with his cabinet, he boasted, “All indicators demonstrate growth, effort, and progress. The employment status, which many were concerned about, has reached 8.2 percent. All indicators show that the efforts made have paid off and will continue to do so.”

Meanwhile, media outlets affiliated with rival factions to Raisi and his allies all point fingers at Raisi, accusing him of lying about the statistics and manipulating figures.

On August 29, the state-run website Eqtesad 24, referring to the overweening reports from Raisi’s government and the statistics presented by him and his deputies over the past two years, wrote, “Based on global economic experiences, creating any job requires an investment and allocation of resources, with the minimum amount being $50,000 and up to $65,000. Accordingly, to create one hundred thousand jobs, a minimum of five billion dollars in investment is required, and for one million jobs, fifty billion dollars in investment is needed.”

This newspaper goes on to ridicule the statistics and claims of Raisi’s government, stating, “It would be great if Raisi’s government and his ministers explained how they calculate employment statistics, exactly where the budget and expenses for it come from, and how much industries have played a role in its creation. And, of course, in the midst of all this, Abdolmaleki [former Minister of Labor] should explain how he hoped, instead of a figure around $20,000 needed to create employment for each person, one could have created sustainable employment with only $25.”

The state-run Aftab News exposed Raisi’s government’s manipulation of figures, stating, “On Tuesday, August 29, Ebrahim Raisi referred to the reduction of the unemployment rate to 8.2% in the spring of this year as a sign of his government’s success in employment. However, at least in the past two decades, the unemployment rate has not been a good measure to assess the labor market situation in Iran. Because in this index, only those who actively seek work are considered ‘unemployed.’ Therefore, for example, women who have become housebound due to despair of finding a job are considered housewives and are not included in the calculations of the unemployment rate.”

On August 24, the state-run newspaper Tose’e Irani criticized the government’s statistical approach, stating, “The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the employed population by the total population ready for work. This method inflates the numerator and reduces the denominator to portray a lower unemployment rate.”

Even media close to the Khamenei-Raisi faction also reported on unemployment, stating that 77% of the population between 15 to 24 years old are neither students nor employed, which is a staggering figure. Farhikhtegan newspaper, affiliated with Ali-Akbar Velayati, the former foreign minister and senior advisor to the Supreme Leader, warned about the consequences of youth unemployment for the regime’s stability on July 25: “Amir Khorasani, an urban sociologist and researcher, in an interview with Farhikhtegan discussing the 77% rate of NEET [Not in Education, Employment, or Training] announced by the Ministry of Labor, said this rate is strange and odd. If this rate is accurate, it’s not a social problem; we should say this rate is causing an earthquake. Khorasani states that this high rate is a very important issue, and if not addressed, it may pose a very serious and dangerous threat to the country’s security.”

Hence, while Raisi’s falsified statistics may look great on paper and soothe elements within the regime for some time, in fact, they not only neglect to tackle real problems on the ground but also pose an increasing threat to the stability of the regime.

Economic Growth

On August 29, Ebrahim Raisi stated that the economic growth had reached four percent. However, he refused to provide details regarding the sources or investments that contributed to this growth. This lack of specificity drew criticism from both state media and experts alike.

One of the key indicators of moving towards economic growth is an increase in production and improved purchasing power of the people. The state-run Arman Emrooz newspaper stated on August 25, “According to global statistics, Iran ranks 81st in the Purchasing Power Index. This is while Iran’s neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have purchasing power five to six times greater than Iran, with PPI of 123.4 and 101.9, respectively.”

The daily concluded, “The economic growth Iran has experienced in the 2010s is very distressing. In the years 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018, and 2019, Iran had negative economic growth, including -0.4%, -8.5%, -1%, -4.9%, and -6.3%, respectively… Additionally, the mismanagement of Iran’s economy in recent decades, chronic and high inflation, has created a situation where real income for people has stagnated due to rising prices.”

These days, while state statistics indicate economic growth for the regime, there are no signs of improvement for the people.

On September 9, in an article titled “Where is Iran’s Oil Revenue Spent? Billions in Revenue; Empty Table for the People!”, the Dideban Iran website stated, “Officials of the thirteenth government have repeatedly reported record-breaking oil exports this year. However, the main question is, where is the oil revenue, and how is it spent? Why are the effects of Iran’s oil revenue not visible in the foreign exchange market?”

Referring to substantial discounts the regime offers in oil sales, the source added, “According to the latest statistics, the Chinese, the main bulk buyer of Iranian oil, receive about a 42% discount on Iranian oil. Of course, offering discounts on oil sales to countries under sanctions like Venezuela, Iran, and Russia is a routine practice, helping them bypass sanctions and alleviate their economic pressure. But has the economic pressure on Iran truly reduced? Based on the statistics, each Iranian’s share of the oil revenue in 1401 (2022-2023) is roughly half of what Iranians had in 1386 (2007-2008). Additionally, the per capita oil revenue for Iranians in the past year is about 34% lower than the years after the JCPOA.”

Controlling the inflation

Ebrahim Raisi made another false claim regarding inflation, stating during the regime’s election campaign events that he would take significant measures to reduce inflation. However, under Raisi’s presidency, inflation has skyrocketed uncontrollably, especially in essential goods and commodities, reaching as high as 300%, and even 400% in some cases. For instance, the prices of basic food items continue to rise daily. In June 2023, point-to-point inflation reached its highest in the category of red meat and aquatic animals at 79.5%, meaning that meat prices have surged 1.8 times compared to the same month the previous year.

The consumption of meat in Iran, which stood at 57 kilograms per person per year in 2005, has now plummeted to 6 kilograms, and in some regime statistics, it has even dropped to 3 kilograms per year, reaching as low as 1 kilogram per year in lower-income brackets.

Despite these alarming trends, Raisi has been falsely claiming that he has reduced inflation to 46%. Anyone who reads the state-controlled media can easily see the stark contrast between Raisi’s statements and the actual economic news on inflation.

On September 10, the Ham-Mihan newspaper wrote, “In June 2021, Ebrahim Raisi, as presidential candidate, announced on national TV that he had set a goal to halve inflation within two years and then move towards single digits. Now, ever since he entered Pasteur [the presidential palace in Tehran], two years and one month have passed, and his promise has not been fulfilled.”

This source added, “Now, after two years, finally one of the government officials confirmed the dire state of inflation. The Minister of Economy of Raisi’s government admitted that the inflation situation is not good, but attributed the cause to the ‘currency war’.”

On the same day, in a column titled “Minister of Economy Confessed; We Failed to Control Inflation,” the newspaper Ta’adol wrote, “In other words, this year’s 40% inflation is conditioned on the Central Bank’s ability to solve and control exchange rate problems, a condition that is often not met. The inflation that was supposed to be halved and then set into single-digit is now at 40% and even that will be conditional.”

Banknote Printing

Since Raisi took office, Iran’s liquidity has increased from 3,900 trillion tomans to 6,500 trillion tomans.

On July 10, Mohammad-Reza Jafarian, a tax consultant at the Chamber of Guilds in Tehran, stated, “Every hour, 420 billion tomans in banknotes are printed, which causes inflation, and then they [the government] tax the inflation. We also don’t have an inflation audit, and effectively, they have caused a 70% inflation while giving employees only a 25% increase in salaries.”

“We don’t know where the taxes are being spent,” he added. “The government doesn’t consider the people as its true stakeholders, and they don’t report to their trustees on where this money has gone. We have repeatedly said that taxes should be transparent, but no one pays attention.”

But the regime’s president has constantly claimed that he does not borrow from the central bank, meaning he does not produce cash. Raisi officially stated, “We completed 1400 (Iranian calendar year) without borrowing from the central bank and without printing money.”

He reiterated this claim several times, most recently on September 7: “In the popular government (referring to his own administration), besides being able to address a budget deficit of 480 trillion tomans without printing money or borrowing from the central bank and by creating new sources of income, we were able to revive five thousand closed and semi-closed factories, increase the production of basic goods by 22%, and turn economic indicators like growth rate into positive.”

These remarks were rapidly rejected by many state officials and media across the board. Most famously, Abdulnaser Hemmati, the former head of the Central Bank, said, “As I had predicted and warned before, unfortunately, the thirteenth government broke the historical record of money printing.”

Ali Saadvandi, an economic expert, said, “My understanding of Mr. Raisi’s remarks is that unfortunately, he is being given with incorrect reports, and he repeats them. My recommendation is that the Mr. President should hold those who give such reports accountable because this trend and such statements are not good for the country.”

Other accounts suggest that over 10 trillion tomans are printed daily, adding up to nearly 3.7 quadrillion tomans annually. This staggering number signifies uncontrollable inflation and the devastation of people’s lives. The state-run website Ruydad24 commented on this, stating, “Printing banknotes to compensate for budget deficits has led us to grapple every year with the inflation monster, swallowing the purchasing power of a significant portion of the Iranian society.”

Adjusting wages according to inflation

Regarding adjusting people’s wages in line with inflation, the regime’s Central Bank declared a 46.5% inflation rate for the year 1401 (from March 2022 to March 2023). However, it was specified that salaries would only see an average increase of 27%. Since the start of the year, inflation has steadily risen, with essential goods’ prices increasing by an average of 50% to 60%. Consequently, people from different walks of life, both employed and retired, take to the streets daily to voice their grievances about the widening gap between their purchasing power and the prices of vital commodities.

In a regime plagued with legitimacy crises right from the start, the economy and societal well-being have been on a consistent downward trajectory. Meanwhile, advancements and expansions in domestic suppression methods and external terrorism have followed a pattern of continuous escalation and growing complexity.

The Supreme Leader Khamenei believes that by adhering to this modus operandi, he can stay in power indefinitely. By praising Raisi’s destructive government, he seeks to reassure his audience that there’s no intention of stepping back. Therefore, it’s just a matter of time until we witness the final repercussions of these choices.