By Pooya Stone
Rising exchange rates and inflation in Iran have a significant impact on the prices of living for people and reducing their purchasing power.
This is at a time when the majority of them are at risk of poverty and the class gap has peaked and the Gini coefficient confirms this gap. Due to the wrong policies of the government, the people’s food baskets are getting smaller every year compared to the previous year.
Some government experts estimate that ‘between 2005 and 2019, the Iranian food basket is reduced by about 30 percent’ (Setareh Sobh daily, September 7).
Ali Akbar Sayari, the regime’s deputy health minister, admitted: “Currently, 30% of the people in the country are hungry and do not have food, which is also confirmed by the Ministry of Welfare.” (Aftab website, 20 August 2016)
At the time that this official said that 30 percent of the population have nothing to eat, the majority were below the poverty line, and at the same time many tables were empty of essential food items and people were malnourished.
Now, four years have passed since then, and in a situation where the country’s economy is shrinking year by year, it is clear how empty the people’s food baskets are.
One of the signs that people’s tables are becoming more and more empty of basic foods is the increase of the army of the unemployed, garbage collectors, labor children, and beggars who knock on every door to get just a piece of bread.
In 2018, when the price of the dollar was about 16,000 tomans and did not reach the current price of 23,000 to 26,000 tomans, the purchasing power of the people decreased by 80%. It is clear that in the current situation, people’s purchasing power is much less, and their tables are getting smaller and smaller than before.
In this regard, Etemad daily on 6 September, in an article entitled, “Rising food prices increase the risk of malnutrition” wrote: “In recent years, the weakening of household purchasing power has intensified to the point that occasional declines in inflation have not been able to positively affect the household table and the shrinking their shopping basket, especially for food items, and field observations show that households buy less food than in the recent past.
“But the latest statistics which belong to the last winter show that, “Per capita meat consumption in the country’s households has decreased from 6.8 kg in 2016 to 5.4 kg in 2018. However, some unofficial reports indicate the elimination of more or fewer protein products such as meat and poultry for vulnerable households in the country, because during this period, according to official reports, red meat with a 171 percent increase in price from 35,000 tomans per kilo in April 2016, increased to 95 thousand tomans in March 2018.
“On the other hand, the head of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Industry Research of the country also spoke about a 134 kg difference in the consumption of dairy and milk products in Iran compared to developed countries.
“According to the latest report of the Statistics Center of protein products such as red and white meat and poultry meat in August 2019, compared to the same period in 2018, it had an increase of 2.77 to 4.77 percent.”
According to the calculation of the author of Etemad’s article, “the cost of a month’s meal for a family of four varies from 600,000 tomans to 2.5 million tomans. Considering that the minimum salary approved for this year, which is 2.8 million Tomans for a family, only 300,000 Tomans will remain for other costs such as rent, treatment, education, and entertainment.”
Regarding the high price of fruit and its effects on the families table that state-run website Khabar Fori on 12 August wrote: “We removed meat and poultry from the table and now it’s time for fruits and vegetables. You cannot live with water! The body needs protein and vitamins. There is a lot to talk about, but no one is listening.”
And referring to interviews with the people on Fruit and vegetable market, this website added: “This increase is so large that only the high-income strata can afford it, and the rest of the society, who are in the middle or weak levels, cannot afford it. How can the working class with a salary of fewer than 2 million tomans and the living costs afford? Recently, the fruit has become an item that the poor can only watch from a distance, and consuming it has become a dream for them!”
And about the workers table the Resalat daily on 5 August wrote: “The labor salary does not reach even the end of the month. You have to close your eyes and do not think about many things so that the wheels of the life can rotate. In a word, you should be obsessive about the income-expenditure atmosphere and manage the costs and incomes in a masterful way, so that the children do not feel the destitution.
“Believe me, there are people who make their day with only one loaf of bread. Clothing, food, and entertainment are strange words for some of the workers.”
The skyrocketing prices and the people’s empty tables are in a situation when the regime’s President Hassan Rouhani in a nonsensical way claimed that, “Fortunately, the dear people of our country have witnessed that we have had the least difficulty in providing the items they need.”