Away from the spotlight of nuclear talks, a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Iran last month to assess recent developments in its economy.
The delegation, led by assistant Middle East director Martin Cerisola, issued a report last month which laid the blame for Iran’s weakened economy on the former president’s “ambitious, inadequately-funded” social programs, as well as the intensification of Western sanctions on the country. The report states: “Iran now stands at a crossroad..the new authorities should embark on fundamental reforms. The economy has continued to shrink in the first half of 2013/2014. Prospects for 2014/2015. still remain highly uncertain”.
Rick Gladstone (New York Times) mostly noted that the report stands in contrast to the optimistic predictions emanating from Iran.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat highlighted the fact that lighter sanctions were not enough to revive an Iranian economy beset by mismanagement and decline.
Meanwhile, the Iranian health minister announced a deficit of 6,000 billion tomans in his ministry’s budget, the price of fruit in the country rose by 32 percent, and official data showed an Iranian family of four spends 1,700,000 tomans annually, while the minimum wage is only 487,000 tomans.
Iran is not a poor country. The money, apparently, is being spent elsewhere. Hints as to where, one can detect in other reports.
In an interview with Al-Hayat (November 2011) the IMF director for the Middle East and North Africa, Masood Ahmed, said the repercussions of the political crisis in Syria “have affected Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, have negatively impacted private sector investment, and have led to the postponement of the expected recovery for another year.”
In September 2013 Rouhani, in an interview to Al-Monitor, urged the IRGC to cease its competition with the private sector. Rouhani underlined this point: “The IRGC is not a rival to the people and the private sector..”.
It seems that Al-Hayat and Al-Monitor assess correctly where the report falls short. No mention was made of the Revolutionary Guard’s massive control of the Iranian economy. No mention of the white elephant nuclear program which Iran so adamantly opposes scaling back. No mention of the tremendous costs of the support of Hezbollah, fighters in Syria and subversion in other countries around the globe. How do IMF and Western media outlets miss this?