On the brink of Iran’s presidential election, senior officials are making significant remarks regarding the regime’s dire economic conditions.
“The people are witnessing how the economic conditions are not fixed. Unemployment has increased significantly amongst educated youths and the economic recession has worsened. People are wary and they will most definitely not vote for the status quo to continue,” MP Naqavi Hosseini said in remarks aimed at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Despite the lifting of secondary sanctions that impacted the civilian economy due to the 2015 nuclear agreement. Despite this, external investment has been slow, in part because of other U.S. and international sanctions that are still in place. Even Supreme Leader Khamenei has noted the economic policies of Rouhani have fallen short.
“I feel the pain of the poor and lower class people with my soul, especially because of high prices, unemployment and inequalities,” Khamenei said in his New Year’s message.
“One of the pledges Rouhani made was to provide such welfare and success for people that they no longer seek subsidies. Four years later, when people look at his slogans and evaluate how much has truly been accomplished, they see Iran’s economy, 100 days after this president came to power, remains a mess; unemployment has especially skyrocketed amongst the youth; and the economic recession has deepened,” Hosseini said, also referring to how Rouhani’s victory four years ago was due to only 250,000 votes more than his rival.
Unemployment has stood at 12.4% in this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, up 1.4% from the previous year. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million.
Khamenei has called for a “resistance economy”, where measures are taken to make Iran’s economy self-sufficient, in contrast to seeking international trade and investment.
“People are fed up with Rouhani’s government… People see that their demands have not been met under this government,” said Ranjbarzadeh, a member of Iranian Parliament Board of Directors.
Rouhani has touted economic growth, however, despite evidence to the contrary. Conservatives, hoping to stop a second term of Rouhani policies, have not identified a candidate to back, but are clear that Rouhani is about to face increased pressure and criticism.
“When this government started its work, there were criticisms, and they would say the government is still weak. When we raise criticisms these days, they say don’t say anything,” said Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, chair of the parliament’s Higher Education Commission. “We were not supposed to create jobs for foreign companies… today, however, we are even importing pencil sharpeners and gravestones from China.”
“No one should have any hope at all in Rouhani and his government to resolve the unemployment issue,” Zahedi recently said in his Telegram social media channel.
On the other hand, inflation has dropped to single digits and the real GDP has grown by as much as 7.4%, yet according to the IMF, growth in non-oil sector is minimal, due in part to a lack of access to finance.
“We are suffering from a deadly spread of recession. Those in charge have been able to create jobs for foreigners abroad. 28 billion tomans ($280mn) in companies’ revenue was taken by government companies,” said MP Hamid Reza Haji Babaie.
These economic conditions are not easily fixed, and the Iranian regime appears to be throwing Rouhani under the bus, instead of the poor choices being made to continue exporting terrorism and not investing back into their own people.
“The continuation of such bad economic conditions is not good for society. We are on the verge of a cliff. Major action is needed and there is no time to check or test anything. The government must answer as to why the $5 billion they were supposed to unfreeze after the Lausanne is now frozen in Oman… 70% of the people’s demands,” Iran’s former oil minister said. This appears to be yet another example of the unchecked corruption found throughout the various sectors of the regime.