The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) reported that after a long period of debate, the Iranian parliament finally approved the government’s (Majlis) budget for the upcoming Persian year that begins in March. The official news agency of the Majlis (ICANA) stated that the dispute was eventually resolved after “hearing the ideas of the MPs” and with “implementation of the considerations of the majlis”.
The two main points that were being discussed by the parliament and the government were the specific exchange rate of the U.S dollar and the source of income for the budget.
On this Tuesday’s session, the MP Allahverdi Dehghani declared, “More than 50 percent of the bill depends on oil and it is not clear how it will be achieved.”
However, the budget bill based on the daily sale of 2.3 million barrels of oil, proposed by the cabinet of regime president Hassan Rouhani, was approved and the dispute was resolved even though one of the Majlis members described it as “imaginary dependency on oil income” in November.
The second topic treated during the session was the official exchange rate of the rial currency. The real exchanged value of the rial is currently six times the official price, around 260,000 rials per U.S. dollar. However, the exchanged rate announced by the government was 42,000 rials per U.S. dollar.
Individuals, organizations, and government agencies close to the regime, greatly profit from selling 42,000-rial dollars at the market rate, an issue that has been previously discussed by the media.
On February 4, the state-run Resalat daily noted, “Since 2018, the profit generated from the 42,000-rial exchange rate is ten times larger than the entire yearly cash handouts being offered to the needy, and it has been deposited to the pockets of individuals who have access to this currency.” On February 10, the state-run Resalat daily acknowledged that the government is “digging its hands into the pockets of the middle and lower classes.
During the dispute on the budget between the Majlis and the government on 2 February, MP Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani warned, “The 42,000-rial exchange rate has driven huge profits to the pockets of a select few who are affiliated with government managers.”
Despite this, on Tuesday the Majlis made the choice to authorize financial corruption by approving the exchange rate transactions and the budget bill.
The truth is that these debates were not about solving financial corruption but a rivalry over how to underhandly distribute the wealth between them. In the final six months of Rouhani’s presidential term, the regime has settled on their exploitative agreement that the government will maintain their advantage of the 42,000 rial currency. Rouhani’s rivals will ensure their pockets are also full, maintaining their wealth through free trade zones which they use to import luxury goods and sell them at extortionate prices.
The so-called economic debates carried out by the regime are of no benefit to the people of Iran. While the monetary exchange takes place in the hands of the country’s officials, Iranian citizens suffer the worst of the consequences. Inflation, taxes, and the price of basic necessities continue to increase and the people of Iran are plundered into extreme poverty.