December 25, 2021
A conservative newspaper in Tehran warned on Sunday that if the government’s proposed new budget is adopted it might lead to a “major social explosion.”
“If the government’s budget bill for the next Iranian year, which starts in late March, is implemented, it will create a lot of problems for the people and might lead to a major social explosion that cannot be controlled,” Jomhuri Eslami (Islamic Republic) daily wrote in an editorial. The paper called on parliament to amend the bill.
In November 2019, a government decision to increase fuel prices led to immediate street unrest, put down by security forces who killed hundreds of people. As a result, the regime’s legitimacy took a big blow.
The daily said that the government should not increase taxes and should continue to subsidize essential commodities by allocating cheap foreign currency for their import to prevent further inflation.
The leading conservative paper charged that those who wrote the budget bill failed to understand the importance of these points because they do not come from the low-income class and do not know about the impact of a devalued national currency on people’s livelihood.
Jomhouiri Eslami further added that the new taxing regulations stipulated in the budget bill will lead to a revolt.The daily suggested that the government should avoid allocating budget to municipalities and to tens of useless organizations.
Iranian economists and media have often criticized the governments for allocating hefty budgets to the seminaries and propaganda organizations whose only function is to convince the people that the government’s ideology can lead to their salvation.
Meanwhile, reformist newspaper Sharq in a report on Saturday reminded that President Ebrahim Raisi in his latest televised interview on December 5 said, “We are not going to surprise the people by sudden hikes in prices.” The paper wrote despite the president’s statement price continued to increase since he took office in August.
Sharq said that given the government’s inability to control prices, it is likely that the people will surprise Raisi. This was a clear allusion to the possibility of protests in Iran because of rising inflation as many Iranian analysts have warned.
Iran’s inflation began to rise dangerously after the United States pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed sanctions in 2018. Without oil export revenues, the government is facing a serious budget shortfall. The currency rial has fallen eightfold since early 2018.
Last week, once again Raisi called on his economic team to make sure that the prices do not go up as people prepared to celebrate a pre-Islamic feast on the longest night of the year, Yalda, on December 21. But press and social media reports indicated that food shopping was reduced to a quarter of what it was last year.
Sharq reminded Raisi that ordering his managers to lower the prices is not likely to work. “He still cannot believe that he is the president and in charge of managing the economy. That is why he keeps issuing orders to others instead of taking action to correct the situation,” the paper quoted social media users as saying.
Sharq also pointed out that only three days after Raisi promised on live TV that he would not surprise the people, the price of Iranian-made cars went up by 100 to 500 million rials each. This further discredited Raisi because the cars are being produced by or in partnership with the government. Sharq quoted social media users as saying that “The economic Mafia made the president look like a fool.”