Iran’s currency has plummeted in the past decade thanks to inflation and negative economic growth, meaning that the people’s purchasing power has decreased significantly, according to a Parliament (Majlis) Research Centre report earlier this month.
In the period March 2019-March 2020, food prices soared 22.5 percent, but in the period March 2020-March 2021, this is expected to rise to a 47 percent increase, while data shows that calorie consumption per person has been steadily declining since 2011.
The increase in food costs has increased levels of poverty across the country, with state-run media reporting that 96 percent of people in North Khorasan Province receive cash subsidies to bolster their income.
The subsidy is only about $2, allowing for only a few loaves of bread to be purchased, so it’s not especially helpful for starving people, but the fact that almost all people are on it, should show how desperate the situation is.
President Hassan Rouhani boasted recently about his “monthly livelihood support package for 60 million people”, which began in November 2019, but this means that almost 10 percent of the country are too poor to afford the basics.
How can that be allowed to happen in the 21st century in a country that has the world’s second-largest gas reserves and third-largest oil reserves? Let alone for it to be something to take pride in.
Meanwhile, as could be expected, the misery index keeps on rising in Iran. The state-run media reported last year that 28 percent inflation and a 9.25 percent unemployment rate resulted in a 37.65-percent misery index, 16 percent higher than that in 2017.
And this is just according to the official stats. Economist Farshad Momeni reported a 70 percent misery index in December, while others have pointed to an unemployment rate of 24 percent at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The problems in Iran far preceded the Covid-19 crisis and will be around for ages after the virus has gone. The true problem here is the Iranian government, whose policies cause economic, health, and other crises and exacerbate even those they did not cause.
So long as power is held by the minority and not the majority, these problems will continue in Iran and get worse. The only way to improve the lives of the Iranian people and ensure economic growth is fundamental changes in Iran’s political system and institute a democratic government, which prioritizes the people’s interests at all.