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Nowruz Gloom: Raisi’s Claims Amid Iran’s Economic Despair

iran-bazaar
iran-bazaar

The Persian New Year “Nowruz” began on March 20. While Nowruz should promise the beginning of a new day or era, coupled with joy, jubilation, and sweets, it was the beginning of another bitter year for millions of Iranians who grapple with poverty.  While the blade of the country’s economic crunch cuts Iranians deep, the annual speech of the regime’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, was like rubbing salt in a wound.

“The outcome of the events in the past year brought about further growth and prosperity for beloved Iran across all sectors,” Raisi said on March 21. “The Supreme Leader designated the previous year as the year of boosting production and curbing inflation, directing all governmental endeavors towards achieving this objective. According to estimates from the Statistics Center, the overall economic growth for the preceding year is expected to be no less than 6%. This marks the third consecutive year in which the country has witnessed growth surpassing 4%.”

Bereft of any meaningful solution for Iran’s financial calamity, the regime’s illiterate president is only an expert in making bogus claims and giving hollow promises. He made headlines and ridiculed himself among his peers and state-run media by giving bodacious yet silly orders to eradicate poverty in two weeks or demanding that prices of consumer goods stop soaring.

Yet, Raisi’s litany starkly contrasts the bitter and harsh reality of people’s situation amid Iran’s economic crisis.

The state-run Sharq Daily acknowledged in April 2023 that Iran suffers from a  50% inflation rate and the misery index hovers around 40%. On March 6, 2024, the same outlet acknowledged that “Iran ranks 19 among 157 countries in terms of having the highest misery index in 2023.”

“The poverty line hovers around 150 million rials,” wrote the state-run Mardom Salary daily on April 6, 2023. Less than a year later, on March 15, the state-run ILNA News Agency wrote, “If we calculate properly and consider the real share of housing and education costs, the real living basket is around 300 million rials.”

“As we reach the end of the year, the prices of consumer goods seem to never stop soaring. People question the roots of this incessant price hikes of domestic products,” wrote the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily on March 18. “The answer is clear: inflation, currency fluctuations, and production problems cause these high prices. This has prevented people from really celebrating the Nowruz.”

In a short answer to Raisi’s bogus claims, Siyamak Ghasemi, a regime-affiliated economist wrote: “The reality of Iran’s economy is not what Mr. Raisi was told to rehash.” In an article on March 22, the state-run Fararu website quoted Ghasemi as raising the following points:

  • Over the past eight seasons, the agricultural sector of Iran has consistently experienced negative economic growth, leading to its complete decline.
  • Except for oil, the entire industry and mining sector saw negative economic growth during the summer and autumn seasons of 2023.
  • In the last two years, the industrial and construction sectors, which serve as the backbone of Iran’s economy, have witnessed stagnant and negative economic growth, respectively.
  • Throughout the sanctions period, Iran’s economic growth, excluding oil, has failed to stabilize above 5% for any two consecutive seasons. In 2023, this rate notably declined, reaching 2.5% during the fall season.
  • The primary drivers behind Iran’s overall economic growth have been the surge in oil extraction and sales facilitated by the Biden administration, along with the steady expansion of the service sector. Sanctions have had a lesser impact on this sector due to its non-tradable nature.

In other words, while the Biden administration loosened sanctions and allowed the regime to increase its oil exports, no economic growth was realized and Iranians remained in absolute poverty.

The regime has been squandering the country’s wealth on warmongering and terrorist activities in the Middle East and across the world.

Unlike what Tehran’s apologists try to implicate, Iran’s economic crisis has a political solution. Iranians demonstrated this solution during their recent protests by saying “Poverty, corruption, high prices, onward to the regime’s      overthrow.”