Three days after regime president Ebrahim Raisi delivered his first budget bill to the Majlis (parliament) for the upcoming Persian year (starting in March 2022), its controversies are still making the rounds on social media and in the regime’s state-owned news outlets.
Reactions to the bill shows just how bad the regime is managing the economy. Even the regime’s own experts are warning that the bill will further push the country on the path of economic bankruptcy and, by extension, social tensions.
From the allocation of massive budgets to security forces and the state-run propaganda apparatus to the disregard for the basic needs of teachers, workers, government employees, and other segments of the society, it is clear from the budget bill that the regime’s main priority is to guarantee its survival.
The budget is also riddled with ambiguities that make it easy for regime officials to pocket money that should be spent on running the country. Two-thirds of the budget has been allocated to so-called government-run companies, whose profits and losses are not mentioned in the bill.
Even Majlis Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf admitted that “these companies, whose budget exceeds the general budget by 20,000 trillion rials… have had their own agenda in the past decades and will continue to do so. Whatever law we pass here, these companies will do what they will.”
It is also worth noting that the regime seldom obeys its own rules and deviates from the articles of the budget bill. In October, Mehrdad Bazrpash, the head of the Supreme Audit Court, revealed that 49 percent of the rulings in the budget bill were disregarded by the previous administration. Interestingly, last year, the budget bill was passed into law after months of heated debate, but was later revoked by regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei and was returned to the Majlis for another round of revision until it met the needs of the regime’s unelected leader.
A quick glance at what has been published in the budget bill reveals much about the regime. The one-third of the budget that is actually allocated to public expenses of the government contains many ambiguities.
For example, according to the regime’s own experts, the government has a 3,000 trillion rial budget deficit. But the bill has concealed this fact through fraudulent manipulation of accounting records to make it look like there’s no deficit in the budget. Instead, the government has instructed ministries and government bodies to cover their deficits with their own “initiatives,” a euphemism for further looting their employees and the people.
Another key concern in the budget is the removal of the 42,000-rial-to-USD exchange rate. Economic experts are warning that the move will cause prices to soar. The bill has no provisions for these backlashes.
Also alarming are oil sales. Every day, 2 million barrels of oil and condensate are distributed across the country, but their income is not accounted for in the budget bill. Ironically, the bill includes income for the sale of dried bread in military garrisons but not oil sales.
These and many other facts show that the budget bill is really just a formality in the regime. In reality, the mullahs are doing everything within their power to milk every last ounce of the country’s resources to preserve their corrupt rule.