In a recent TV interview, Iranian regime president Ebrahim Raisi presented economic statistics rejected by experts and the media run by his regime. In what cases are the numbers and figures of Ebrahim Raisi incorrect?
On January 30, in response to the recent increase in the price of goods, including food, Raisi said, “At the beginning of our administration, we faced a budget deficit, and we tried to change the situation by increasing income without printing money and borrowing from the central bank. We had nearly 60 percent inflation, which has now reduced to 40 percent.”
The website Aftab News rejected this claim, saying, “According to the latest report by the Statistics Center, inflation reached over 51 percent in January, and Raisi still insists on reducing inflation by 20 percent.”
According to the official report of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare, “in 2021, more than 31.5 percent of Iran’s population dropped below the poverty line.”
Poor government performance
Referring to the promise of building four million housing units during the four years of the government’s activity, Raisi claimed, “It remains the government’s promise to build one million homes every year, and people, institutions, and mass builders will assist.”
Raisi made this claim despite his government having one of the worst performances in house building in Iran.
According to the Statistical Centre of Iran, in January, point-to-point inflation of food items was at 70 percent and healthcare at 58 percent. Also, the inflation rate in January reached over 51 percent.
Regarding the “good and reliable” foreign exchange reserves, Raisi said, “In the past few years, many food items depended on the dollar, and we are working to reduce their dependency so that people’s tables are not affected by fluctuations in the dollar. People’s demand for price stability is completely reasonable. We suffer from high prices even more than the people; governments are affected by what people suffer.”
Experts predict that Iran’s currency will continue to lose value if the current trend in economic indicators continues for the following year.
“The currency of all exporters must be under the central bank’s supervision. The oil revenues covered last year’s budget deficit. The government has made serious efforts not to have a budget deficit in 2022,” Raisi added.
Putting behind an awful year
Despite the numbers announced by the government, there is substantial concern about the budget deficit and the sources for financing next year’s budget. In the last days of 2022, the Majlis Research Center announced the government’s budget deficit at 3,000 trillion rials.
“To secure the public budget by the end of 2022, the government will need about 3,000 trillion rials assuming all public expenses are paid. Considering the financial burden transferred from 2021, this figure reaches about 3,600 trillion rials,” the Research Center reported.
The Research Center further estimated that only 73 percent of the total budget resources were realized in the first seven months. Meanwhile, the average oil revenue realization was at most 56 percent.
The same report also indicates that only 27 percent of the construction budget materialized in the first six months. It means the government has once again reduced the construction budget due to its inability to realize revenues and has paid salaries and wages 73 percent of it.
All these deficits and inefficiencies will likely carry over like dominoes into next year with increased intensity.
Growing unemployment and poverty
In another part of his TV interview, Raisi claimed having reduced unemployment and succeeded in creating one million jobs per year and said, “The day I assumed the presidency, the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, and today it is 8.2 percent. The percentage of unemployment has decreased especially in 11 provinces.”
Raisi claimed to have created one million jobs, but the labor force report for the fall season categorically refutes his assertion. The Statistics Center announced that only 535,000 jobs were created compared to the previous year.
According to Ebrahim Raisi’s claim, economic growth was 0.4 percent before his government, but in the fall of 2022, growth shot above 3 percent.
This claim is also false, and the economic growth has visibly decreased during Raisi’s presidency, from 6.7 percent to 2.3 percent.
Donya-e-Eqtesad daily reported on January 5 that the results of poverty monitoring in 2022 indicate a prevalent poverty level in Iran and a fall in the average calorie intake per capita. “Due to high general inflation and a significant drop in per capita income, more than 31 percent of Iran’s population could not afford the minimum living expenses in 2022.”
The “Poverty Monitoring in 2022” results show that the average number of calories in households in Iran has fallen. This index reached about 2700 kcals per day in 2011 to about 2190 kilocalories in 2022.
Ham-Mihan daily reported, “Per capita meat consumption for each person has reached four kilograms per year, while this per capita in Kuwait is 67 kilograms per person per year. Even the annual per capita meat consumption in Djibouti is 15 kilos per person. It means that every citizen of Kuwait consumes 16 times more meat, and every citizen of Djibouti consumes 3.5 more than their Iranian counterparts.”
People can’t pay for house rent
Iran’s annual house rent inflation exceeded 40 percent in 2020 and 2021, which has been one factor in families becoming poorer.
The sharp growth of rents in Tehran and other parts of the country reached the point where, based on official statistics, 2021 was the worst year for home renters.
Beitullah Satarian, an expert on the housing market, told Etemad Online, “Should the nuclear deal be finalized, and economic openings take place in the country, the housing market would face a higher inflation rate. But since there will be no economic improvement, apart from the sharp increase in housing prices, the rental fee will also go up.”
Some experts believe this price increase will persist until the end of this year, both in the purchase and rental sectors.