Throughout Iran, the economic hope from the 2015 nuclear agreement that lifted various sanctions has not been realized. While the Rouhani government has issued reports noting economic growth, various officials and former members of the Iranian Parliament are speaking out about the struggles of the Iranian economy.
Mehrdad Bazrpash, a former member of the Iranian regime parliament’s board of speakers, questioned recent figures provided by Hassan Rouhani government. He called the economic situation dire, noting that “all experts know this growth was only in the oil sector and all other sectors are becoming smaller and weaker. Our banks and pension funds are struggling, and some of them are actually bankrupt.”
He also expressed his doubts in the government, saying that they are ignoring the realities of the Iranian people. Bazrpash is not alone in his assessment. Others have also questioned the state of Iran’s economy.
“The highest unemployment rates are amongst people between the ages of 20 and 24, and this age average is generally amongst those newly entering the job market and consists of the most energetic branch of the young generation,” said Iranian MP Hajar Chenarali.
Even those who support Rouhani have expressed concern about the economy. Sadegh Zibakalam, a supporter of Rouhani, said, “Rouhani’s cabinet has not been able to bring about any significant achievements for various sectors of our society. Furthermore, Rouhani’s economic team has not been able to decrease the unemployment rates.”
Part of the issues seem to revolve around a lack of growth in the private sectors, as well as continued increase in smuggled goods into Iran.
Bazrpash said that the market had a limit and was filled with smuggled goods, and he added, “65 to 70 billion tomans of smuggled goods are passed through our official customs and the figure has reached to 100,000 billion tomans of smuggled goods and this is how unemployment is unabated.”
Corruption throughout the economy, particularly at the banking level, seems to systemic and this continues to stifle growth as well.
Bazrpash also noted that “banks are at the top of the government and any violation and embezzlement is rooted in the banks. The current situation of the country in terms of economic indicators does not look good and there is no good estimate for the future.”
This former Member of Parliament said that 600,000 billion tomans do not enter into the economy and the economy is blocked at the banks. He noted that 350,000 billion tomans of raw materials and 130 billion tomans of manufactured goods have been stored in warehouse facilities and the rest of the money is in the Exchange shops and coins among people.
He emphasized that the banks have become a government. “A slight money transfer in the banks of other countries is tracked and the banks must be the major information system, while our banks themselves are the root of economic corruption,” said Bazrpash.
A state-run newspaper aligned with Rouhani argued that the actions of the IRGC are a source of corruption and smuggling, as well as part of the destruction of the economy.
“In our country, governments cannot uproot the trafficking…because some power brokers can import whatever they want without permission or customs duties and unanimously and in all steps of supply chain from transport to sale to consumption, no one can confront them and they cannot be controlled or monitored…Giant corporations and government equal to or even greater than that of the state do not pay taxes. There are giant corporations at par with the government or even greater than the government who do not pay taxes,” said this state-run newspaper.
The Minister of Industry, Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh, has said that the banks, tax system, social security, and above all, trafficking of contraband goods are the country’s main barriers to production and employment.
Other officials argue that Iran has not created jobs for its people, but have only created jobs for other countries. Inflation and recession are both issues within Iran, and there appears no clear solution to address these issues.