Not mentioning the economic situation and plans by Iran’s presidential candidates has a long history in Iran’s elections. The main reason for it is that speaking about the critical situation and its reasons would expose the many corruptions of the officials and the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his economic empire. Therefore, the candidates are prevented from speaking about specified subjects.
On Saturday June 5, the people of Iran have witnessed the first presidential debate with repeated useless slogans and generalization about the country’s economic problems, which followed most time with disputes between the rivals and attacking each other over their past cases and behaviors.
Interesting is that these candidates accused their own government of disrupting and weakening the country’s economic system but did not offer a solution to the current economic problems.
Some important economic issues for the people were not discussed at all in the debate. One of the most important was an issue mentioned by one of the candidates after the debate, the coronavirus.
The coronavirus and its effects on the economy
Damage to many businesses, the increase of unemployment apart from the social problems caused by the coronavirus, is at the moment on of the main problems and most considered by the people. A problem which is caused by the government of Iran deliberately to prevent any gatherings of protests, therefore, is subject was out of interest in this debate.
The result of the coronavirus’s spread is the unemployment of 2 million people. Unemployment is only part of the coronavirus impact on the Iranian economy that people are tangible with. So far, many reports of coronavirus damage have been published by various sectors of the Iranian economy.
Expensiveness and its reasons
The next subject are the high prices which is related directly with the people’s pockets. Which is now the most important concern of the people. A problem which is increasing poverty and is eliminating the middle class of the society, while many of the officials have previously admitted that the middle class in Iran does not exists anymore.
And this subject was not mentioned by the candidates too. None of the candidates said what action plan they have to solve this problem given the current economic situation in the country.
The annual inflation rate for the country’s households in May 2021 reached 41%, which shows an increase of 2.1% compared to the same information in the previous month. Also, the point inflation rate in May 2021 reached 46.8%.
In other words, the country’s households have spent an average of 46.2% more than in May 2020 to buy a ‘set of identical goods and services.’ In only one of the 53 food items surveyed by the Statistics Center in May this year, 51 items increased by 173.7% to 3.2% compared to the same month last year, although single-digit inflation in these 53 cases only belongs to two items of these food items.
Housing is another issue that many Iranian families are struggling with. While some candidates have chanted slogans about solving the housing problem and increasing its construction. This issue was not analyzed realistically in the debate.
According to the Statistics Center under the title of Social Justice Indicators, 67% of the country’s urban population live in units owned by them. This index also reaches 86% for rural areas. The trend of this index during the 2000s shows that in 2019, 98% of the rental population in urban areas has increased compared to the beginning of the 2000s. Also in 2019, in rural areas, only 4.5% were tenants.
Unemployment and lack of a strategy by the candidates
Job creation is another rightful expectation of the people. These days, having several unemployed people in a family has put a heavy burden on the head of the household, and many families are struggling with this problem.
The unemployment rate for the population aged 15 and over, reached 9.6 percent in 2020, down from 1.1 percent a year earlier, but the decline came as the economic participation rate, according to the Statistics Center of Iran, compared to the previous year (2019), has decreased by 3.8 percent.
In 2020, 41.3% of the population aged 15 and over were economically active, i.e., in the employed or unemployed group. An examination of changes in the rate of economic participation shows that this rate has decreased by about 2.8 percent compared to 2019. Economic participation rate is the ratio of active population (employed and unemployed) to working age population.
But the other point is that the income of many people who have a job does not cover the cost of living. The country’s misery index, which shows the sum of inflation and unemployment, was estimated at 46.1% at the end of last year. And despite all these none of the candidates pointed to this issue.
The stock market is another issue that has affected many Iranian households in recent years, with its turbulences and declines and failures.
The non-reform of the market has led to the loss of many people who had invested their small capital in the stock market with the promises of the officials, and even lost their entire capital. It is said that the number of stock exchange codes has reached more than 50 million, which indicates that 60% of them enter the capital market, considering the population of 84 million people in Iran.
And how to solve this problem and restore people’s trust in the market also had no place in this debate.
Cash and subsistence subsidies
While some presidential candidates are specifically talking about increasing subsidies, none of them are properly explaining how they are going to pay for it. According to the head of the Higher Institute for Social Security Research, a report on the state of poverty and inequality in the country in the last two decades will be published soon, but preliminary statistics released from this report show that the population below the absolute poverty line has reached 15% from 2013 to 2017. But from 2017 to 2019 increased to 30%.
According to Iran’s government, the government is paying 1.4 trillion tomans of hidden subsidies and is paying more than 300 trillion tomans ($12.5 billion). Now the question how the candidates are claiming to increase the subsidies while the country’s treasury is empty because of the government’s wasting in sub-subjects.
These are just some of the current problems of the country’s economy that people directly face but solving them will definitely require deep changes in the country’s economic and political structure. And another point is that Iran’s government never published the rights numbers and statistics, and the situation in Iran is much worse.
The last and one of the most complicated subjects in Iran’s economic crisis is the global sanctions. Complicated because it is not a problem caused by natural economic challenges and phenomenon, but because of the rule’s self-constituted problems because of its nuclear and missile program and support of terrorism.
It is obvious that the people are suffering from it. But the regime has not left other solution for the international community to prevent the regime from such activities threatening the entire world. And as the entire 40 years showed, none of the mullahs’ governments is capable to solve the country’s economic problems.