By Abbas Davari, Chairman of the NCRI’s Labor Commission
The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, during his yearly speech on the occasion of the New Persian Year of 1400 on Sunday, prepared the ground for further plundering impoverished people.
“Well, the slogan of the year 1399 was ‘A surge in production. If I were to make a general assessment on the basis of many popular and governmental reports – we receive reports from various organizations and places – I would say that this slogan was realized to an acceptable degree. In other words, the surge in production materialized in some areas and affairs of the country,” Khamenei claimed.
To better understand Khamenei’s plan to plunder Iranian people further, it is necessary to take a look at this so-called “surge in production” and how it had “advanced.” Khamenei highlighted what he meant by a surge in production in another part of his speech on Sunday. “Car tires, aluminum, petrochemicals, steel, etc., are the goods that developed and surged in [the Persian Year of] 1399,” he said.
These industries in Iran are dominated by Khamenei, his vast financial institutions, and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The IRGC and Khamenei control and oversee the production and distribution of medications and drugs, oil, fuel, iron and steel, metallic and non-metallic mines, paper and cardboard production, shipping fleet, and agro-industrial companies.
Thus Khamenei’s “surge in production” is nonother than plundering the national wealth.
Let’s take a look at one example of this so-called “surge in production” in the field of medications and drugs. The “Barkat Pharmaceutical Park,” which belongs to the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), one of Iran’s largest financial institutions, and is under Khamenei’s control, expanded its activities under the name of “New Pharmaceutical Technologies Company and Tadbir,” in 2010.
Barkat Pharmaceuticals Holding Company owns 60.6 percent of the Alborz Investment Group, the second-largest pharmaceutical holding company in the country. Companies in this conglomerate include: Alborz Pharmaceuticals Company Sobhan, Pharmaceuticals Company (manufactures pills), Iran Pharmaceuticals Company, Tolid Pharmaceuticals Company, Sobhan Oncology Company – Manufactures Paclitaxel, licensed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Strange, KBC (importer) Alborz Distributors, Alborz Ascend Investment Company, Alborz Balak Company, Farabi Pharmaceutical Manufacturer (17 percent), Razak Pharmaceutical Manufacturer (12 percent), Ati Farmed Company (51 percent), BioSun Company (20 percent), and Alborz-Zagros Company.
According to Barkat’s website, the New Pharmaceutical Technologies Company and Tadbir in 2015 “produced more than 420 pens through his subsidiaries, such as Alborz Daroo. Alborz Drug Company itself has 11 subsidiaries.”
Khamenei and the IRGC also control another pharmaceutical company, “Tamin Pharmaceutical Investment Company (TPICO).”
According to its website, TIPCO is “the largest pharmaceutical holding company in Iran, which has been operating since 1992 and is the largest Iranian exporter of pharmaceutical products.”
TIPCO has more than 10,000 people working in 25 subsidiary companies, according to its website.
Khamenei controls another aspect of Iran’s economy through his vast financial institutions, such as EIKO.
“Yaran, joint oil field development contract, was signed yesterday between the National Oil Company and Persia Oil and Gas Industry Development Company in the form of new oil contracts,” the state-run Eghtesad-e Saramad daily reported on July 12, 2020, in an article titled as “Another oil contract with EIKO.”
How Khamenei, IRGC, and their affiliated institutions destroyed Iran’s economy?
Khamenei and the IRGC’s exclusive and affiliated institutions, in line with their so-called “surge in production,” have caused hundreds of private factories, forcing millions into poverty. A glance at the state-run media further elucidates the matter.
- “Closure of one thousand garment production units in Mashhad,” state-run Eghtesad online reported on October 13, 2015.
- “The head of the union of paper and cardboard sellers said: ‘out of 600 guild units active in paper production, 100 guild units were closed,’” Keyhan daily reported on December 26, 2018.
- Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, then-spokesman of government, on November 25, 2014, said: “Out of 841 production units in industrial towns all over Iran, only 192 units are operating, and another 629 units have been closed,” according to the state-run ISNA news agency.
- “There is an unprecedented closure of factories and unemployment of workers, including drug factories, Arj, Azmayesh, Ghandfariman, Pars Electric, Bella Shoes, Mazandaran Textile,” the state-run Mashreghnews reported on April 10, 2017.
- “The Secretary of the Headquarters for Facilitation and Elimination of Barriers to Production stated that about 2,400 production units were acquired and closed by the banks,” Tasnim news agency reported on June 27, 2020.
The trend of closure of factories continues to this day. As a result, impoverished workers go down in the swamp of poverty, and the middle class has been purged.
“Today, people suffering from unemployment and people living below the poverty line are certainly not able to pay high rents, especially in big cities and metropolises. Migration of tenants in uptown to downtown, downtown tenants to suburbs, and tenants in the suburbs into the outskirts of the city are evidence of the fact that people have lost the ability to pay rent in conditions where wages are not commensurate with inflation,” wrote the state-run Vatan-e Emrooz daily on June 30, 2020.
This issue has caused “the middle class to be purged, creating many consequences for the system. The set of logic governing economic conditions in Iran has increased the class gap and removed the middle class of society,” according to the state-run Ebtekar daily’s article on June 6, 2020.
The state-run Hamdeli daily on July 15, 2020, wrote, “we are facing another social harm, and that the ‘fall of the middle class.’”
“Statistics Center report shows that 5.1 million employees and 2 million active members left the labor market in the first quarter of this year ,” wrote the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily on July 14, 2020.
Thinking that over 5 million Iranians lost their jobs amid the harsh economic conditions hurts every human heart. The state-run Arman daily reported on April 12, 2020, that according to the regime’s Ministry of Roads and City Planning statistics, the number of people living in cities’ outskirts had reached 32 million.
Yet, the state-run Javan daily on July 28, 2020, reported: “The Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development said: the key to a thousand housing units in the safe of a bank. Part of the shares of this bank is in the hands of the government. Another part is in the hands of the private sector. Recently, Hesam Aghbaee, an official of the Real Estate Consulting Union, explicitly stated that part of the vacant houses belongs to banks and economic complexes.”
Khamenei’s plan to further plunder Iranian people
After reviewing some facts and figures, we could better understand Khamenei’s plan to plunder further Iranians, which he deceptively called in his annual speech “surge in production.” Of course, the regime officials have often hijacked millions of people’s life savings with promises of more income or guarantees for their children’s future.
Regime-linked financial institutions such as Fereshtegan, Afzal Toos, Padideh Shandiz, Arman, Caspian, Samen Al-Hajj, etc., have attracted people’s financial deposits since the beginning of 2014 with the approval of the Central Bank. They plundered billions of assets of people with the support of the regime’s oppressive forces. This action caused daily protests by plundered people.
“The Caspian Group [consists of 8 institutions] has about 2 million members and Samen Al-Hajj Institute operated with 500 branches in the country and had collected 12 thousand and 800 billion Tomans,” the state-run Tasnim news agency reported on August 6, 2017.
In another example, Rouhani’s government, with Khamenei’s approval, and to compensate its budget deficit encouraged people to purchase shares at the Stock Market Exchange.
On April 22, 2020, Rouhani said: “You will hear some good news from the Stock Market next week.”
To plunder people’s wealth, Rouhani’s government “reduced the bank interest rate to 15% in early May 2020, while the central bank announced inflation at 41% at the end of 2019. Thus, shifted people’s interest from bank deposits to purchase shares at the Stock Market,” according to the state-run Arman daily on April 28, 2020.
Iran’s Stock Market had a bubble growth. Regarding the regime’s role in deceiving people to purchase more share the state-run Jahane-e Sanat daily on January 19 wrote: “The small shareholders of the capital market, who entered the market with the propaganda maneuver of the government, the parliament, and the Central Bank, have suffered significant losses and some of them have lost everything, especially since the beginning of this year. Therefore, it does not seem that the response of the middle managers of the Stock Organization to the protesters will cure the pain as long as no concrete, practical action has been taken to adjust the market conditions and compensate them. Small shareholders have come to believe that the Twelfth Government, in its final year, has made major financing from public funds on the stock market and has now abandoned it when it does not need market liquidity.”
Yet, starting July 22, people’s wealth started vanishing into the air. “The stock market is one step away from a national crisis. At least 30,000 to 40,000 billion tomans should be injected into the stock market, and this figure is less than one-eighth of what the government has earned from the stock market,” wrote the state-run Siasat-e Rooz daily on January 18, 2020. In other words, the regime was able to plunder 260,000 billion tomans.
Since the regime has already plundered billions of dollars of people’s wealth within the last six years, Khamenei has leaped for plundering the rest of people’s assets by speaking of “production.”
“Another point that is good to be discussed on the country’s economic matters is that eliminating the problems requires the people’s cooperation. If the people enter any area, that area will surely improve. This has been the case until now. Whenever the people entered any area, that area improved! What I want to say is that the people themselves can play a role in investing in production. This includes those who have capital and who use it in some unnecessary business dealings and transactions – they could use their capital for boosting production,” he said on March 21.
to further deceive people into investing, Khamenei quoted the World Bank and said Iran has capacities. “As for the capacities that the World Bank experts have mentioned, there are two capacities: geographic and human capacities. Geographic capacities include the geographic area of the country and the country’s access to international waters…. The human capacities include a working-age population. We have a large number of youths who have entered the job market. In other words, the country is a young country where there are numerous human resources ready to enter into the job market,” Khamenei claimed.
He also referred to Iran’s natural resources, such as oil and gas. Yet, as aforementioned, these resources are under Khamenei and the IRGC’s control.
Let us fact-check what Khamenei claimed.
1- Iran’s human capacities:
– “Between 1999 and 2012, the share of wages in the cost of production fell from 13 percent to 5 percent,” the state-run ILNA news agency reported on March 3, 2014, quoting Hassan Seventeen Deputy Minister of Labor.
– “In recent decades, with the rapid growth of contracting companies in oil and gas projects, large numbers of skilled and technical workers have been deprived of their legal rights. Since the refinery colonies are no longer operate under the labor law, there has been a greater unification of contractors, which has deprived more workers of their salaries,” wrote the state-run ILNA news agency on August 9, 2020.
– “There are 2.4 million unemployed people in the country, 40% of whom are university graduates,” wrote the state-run Eghtesad-e Saramd daily on February 1, 2021.
– “Fifteen workers of Hepco Arak Company, who held a gathering in June, and demanded their delayed wages, were sentenced by Branch 106 of the Arak Criminal Court to a total of 24 years imprisonment and 1110 lashes,” the state-run Sarkhat news agency reported in November 2018.
In other words, Iran has a very cheap labor force without legal protection and official labor organizations, and employers can fire workers whenever they want. When workers protest, the regime’s security forces and the Judiciary oppress them.
2- Iran’s natural wealth
– “Iran is also one of the top 15 mining countries in the world … and we are among the top 20 richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources,” wrote the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily on January 18, 2021.
Yet, as mentioned above, Khamenei and IRGC dominate Iran’s economy and natural resources.
In a report published on November 13, 2013, Reuters wrote: “Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam has become one of the most powerful organizations in Iran, though many Iranians, and the wider world, know very little about it. In the past six years, it has morphed into a business juggernaut that now holds stakes in nearly every sector of the Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills, and even ostrich farming. The organization’s total worth is difficult to pinpoint because of the secrecy of its accounts. But Setad’s holdings of real estate, corporate stakes, and other assets total about $95 billion, Reuters has calculated. Just one person controls that economic empire – Khamenei. As Iran’s top cleric, he has the final say on all governmental matters.”
Khamenei intends to plunder people’s wealth through deception. The Iranian people and the international community should prevent Khamenei and his regime from devastating Iran’s economy and people’s lives.