By Shahriar Kia
Political experts and economists alike are discussing how Iran is engulfed in a dire economic crisis paralyzing the country. While actual reports can hardly be obtained about the true status of Iran’s crumbling economy, a brief glance at what is available provides us with an image of the scope of the destruction overwhelming Iran’s economy at the hands of the mullahs sitting on the throne in Tehran. This despite all the promises of change to come following the nuclear pact and “reformists” gaining the upper hand in the sham twin elections in late February.
Harsh and undeniable realities already challenge the country’s economy, with unemployment topping the list and acting as a major barometer of Iran’s economic stability. Iran currently has an estimated unemployed population of around 8 million, of which 4 million are educated, according to various reports from inside Iran. This in itself is a major challenge. To resolve this problem there is a need for over $220 billion in investment, experts and reviews indicate. Where is this money to come from and are further challenges down the road?
Living standards in Iran are yet another major predicament. Dire conditions in the lower middle classes in Iran became obvious during the recent sham twin elections. Individuals can barely make ends meet and the Iranian people in general are facing major economic difficulties.
Due to economic recession, Iran’s industry is entirely in ruins, especially small and medium-size units. A government minister sounded the alarm by revealing that 14,000 productions units have been closed down in towns across the country, one after another reaching the point of complete bankruptcy. Demand running extremely low, depleting warehouses, and returned checks provide a dim picture of how ordinary people are facing dead-ends.
Nothing to Boast About
Is there anything left intact in Iran’s economy? The above-mentioned facts are merely a tip of the iceberg of the devastation inflicted on what is left of Iran’s economy. Employment and unemployment in Iran is best described by a regime official saying, “We have around 60 million people aged from 15 to 65, of which only 22 million are employed. (Economic participation rates) amongst women is 16 to 18%, and 65% amongst the men, and we have an entire army of unemployed college students. A large portion of the 4 million college students prefer to find a job [involving their studies], and since there are no jobs available they decide to continue their education. However, a bachelor’s degree or a master’s will render no difference in their job status these days, as there are no jobs to go around and these college students are merely filling their time.”
Of course, the actual unemployment numbers are maintained a secret by the ruling regime. In an interview with state IRIB TV, a senior regime official by the name of Razzaghi revealed that 15 million people are unemployed across Iran. This is more realistic and down to earth than the “official” estimates.
Iran has two or three industrial complexes and towns in each province. These sites are full of heavy machinery, water and gas facilities, and large labor forces. However, under the mullahs’ regime in Iran all these complexes have been closed down or are working only at a 20 to 30% capacity.
Corruption and Plundering!
With all the elements of production seemingly intact, and considering the windfall of more than $800 billion Iran brought in when the price of oil skyrocketed above $130 a barrel, why is the status quo as we view it to be?
Corruption has become commonplace these days in Iran, while also spreading its roots deep into the country’s economy, fomenting deep turmoil. Banks, for instance, are in a quagmire and if conditions are not soon remedied, it can reach a point of no return.
Iran has 3 million employees and 3 million retired employees who have placed their savings in retirement accounts. However, various administrations under different pretexts have plundered these savings for numerous causes, especially terrorism and nuclear ambitions, leaving the Iranian people without any financial cushion for their retirement years.
Simply put, Iran’s economy suffers from two illnesses: corruption and plundering by senior state officials, with every administration coming to power in Tehran having a hand in the people’s pocket. The sole solution to this ongoing phenomenon would be to deprive the mullahs of any possibility to further plunder the Iranian people. This would be a prelude to many other welcome changes in Iran.
Shahriar Kia is a press spokesman for Iranian opposition in Camp Liberty, Iraq, who advocates for a democratic, secular, nuclear-free Iran. He graduated from North Texas University. His Twitter handle is @shahriarkia
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