By Armin Baldwin
The Government of the Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani published on December 8, 2019 its budget bill for the year 2020. But until today, discussions and disagreements about the 2020 budget continue between different currents of the Iranian regime. Advocates and opponents of the budget, both agree on the unrealistic budget sources and its deficit. But this is not the whole problem.
By reviewing the Iranian regime’s 2020 budget we can clearly see regime’s deadlock and crises one after the other.
What the advocates and opponents of the Rouhani’s Government budget both say is that Rouhani is trying to put his hand in pockets of the people to offset the 2020 budget deficit. This has raised many concerns withing the regime’s different institutions, which are warning about the possibility of another uprising.
The most unrealistic budget so far
Hossein Dadfar, one of regime’s experts close to Rouhani, said in an interview with Entekhab website on December 26, 2019, “The 2020 budget is the most unrealistic budget that is so far presented. Closing the budget based on exporting one million barrels of oil a day is unrealistic. The providers of the budget know it too well. This budget will make a part of the society more impoverished. What justifications do tax exemptions have for some entities and exporters of raw materials? Pressures on small and medium enterprises will continue. Inflation in the food sector this year was more than 80 percent.”
Dadfar continued, “The budget deficit over the last three decades caused the country to face major challenges, as the people can feel it as well, the future is not so bright.”
Regarding the current situation which is a “continuation of the last three decades” and will lead to the deterioration of the country's economic situation Dadfar, warned of the danger of a new uprising.
Dadfar said, “Unless the November protests experiment teach the government lessons to change the failed approach of the past three decades.”
Regime’s fear of more protests
Regime’s fear of a new uprising and the eruption of people's anger over an anti-popular budget of 2020 could also be seen in institutions and circles close to the Supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
The state-run daily Siasat-e Rouz reminded on December 25, that 2020 budget of Rouhani’s Government is far from being justice but also pays no attention to people’s livelihood problems.
Siasat-e Rouz wrote, “The analysis of the 2020 budget is that it can lead to the depletion of all the country's foreign exchange reserves. The Islamic Republic will face numerous crises and public unrests in the coming years, which will lead us to a worse deal than the JCPOA.”
The daily Vatan Emrouz also warned on December 24 that “Trying to reach a oil-independent economy through mounting pressure on the weak strata will lead to high political tension and social instability and on the way to an oil-free economy, inefficient management will benefit.”
The state-controlled television warned more clearly about the 2020 budget. The regime’s television reported on December 22 that “closing the 2020 budget on export of oil is unrealistic. Why is this budget closed in this way? We will have either a serious inflation because of the government extraction from the central bank and a budget deficit as result or we have to negotiate again to be able to export our oil. This budget is dependent on oil export and many experts believe that this budget is preparation to go to the negotiation table again and accept American bullying.”
No way out
This is how the 2020 Budget of the Iranian regime has become a mirror of regime’s 2020 crisis which faces the international community and tougher sanctions and more global isolation. On the other hand, the regime faces angry people that rose up against tyranny and demand the overthrowing of the ruling system. This is why the regime is facing a deadlock.
The state-run news agency IRNA quoted Majid Fouladian, one of the regime’s analysts, on Saturday December 28, as saying, “The 2020 budget will not prevent events like what happened in November,” referring to the recent nationwide protests.
Fouladian added, “The 2020 budget will prepare the ground for more public unrests and we will be those who are engineering these unrests and not the foreign elements or the MEK,” referring to Iran’s main opposition movement the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Fouladian warned: “our society is going to a more critical atmosphere and more social movements and uprisings in the country and I don’t have any hope for any reformation of this situation.”
Even though the regime has spent huge amounts on its security apparatus and the IRGC, the budget has a lot of opponents within the regime.
The regime has no maneuvering room in its 2020 budget. Either it has to have access to a big amount of money from outside the country, which will require going to the negotiating table, or it has to put its hands in the pockets of the people, which will lead to a new round of nationwide protests.