Data published in Iran recently, showing a vast differences between minimum and maximum salaries in the government seems to have taken the nation by surprise.
The data is based on payment information across the government between March and November 2021.
Meanwhile, a conservative daily in Tehran, the Jomhouri Eslami newspaper, wrote on Sunday, December 19that the gap between minimum wage and hefty salaries for certain managers can lead to a catastrophe.
The leaked data, published by the conservative news website Alefindicates that minimum wages across the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative bodies, as well as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office, and other government institutions is fixed at a flat 32,550,000 rial rate, or a little over $100 a month. The purchasing power of $100 is a little bit more in Iran than in Western countries, but still a family of 3 cannot afford the bare necessities with that amount of money.
However, the highest earning personnel at those entities receive salaries at different levels. The monthly salary of the highest paid government employee in Iran at the executive branch is 2.84 billion rials, or around $10,000. This is followed by 1.84 billion rials at the judiciary branch and 830 million rials in the legislative branch, and 485 million rials at Khamenei's office.
A luxurious mansion in Tehran rented out only in US dollars.
These salaries include workers and managers at state-owned industries, which are mostly money-losing enterprises.
Alef quoted Vice President Meysam Latifi as saying that high earners receive up to 62 times more salary than the low earning government personnel, although the difference is closer to 100 times.
Jomhouri Eslami wrote that the highest salaries at the executive and judiciary branches should no longer be called "astronomical salaries," as these are "super astronomical figures."
The official poverty line in Iran is drawn just under 100 million rials per month. However, most low-paid workers earn around or less than 40 million rials per month and manage to survive in a mysterious way.
Iranian media have been reporting that meet, fruits and dairy products are now consumed regularly only by a minority and consumption of these food staples have decreased up to 50 percent.
According to Jomhouri Eslami, a maximum of 10 percent of the employees receive the highest payments in the range while the other 90 percent fall below the official poverty line. Meanwhile, the high earners are those who receive separate allowances for housing and transportation while low earners have to have another job after their first work to make ends meet and most of them are tenants.
The high paid employees are usually well-connected individuals who have access to extra legitimate or illicit incomes if they are part of the financial corruption network in the country.
Jomhouri Eslami wrote that the existence of shanty towns next to luxurious buildings in most parts of Iran is indicative of a vast class difference which is getting wider by the day, while the government seems to have no plan to bridge the gap in any way.
The daily wrote, "Although the society looks calm on the surface, there are alarming signs hiding under the skin. There is a limit to the people's patience and if it ends, the gathering storm will eventually arrive to trigger explosive changes that will sweep aside everything and everyone. This means if there is going to be a revolution, it is likely to be one by the barefoot people against an aristocracy that earns astronomical salaries and has access to the cash coming out of corruption."
The daily warned: "This is something that is most certainly likely to happen if the current situation continues."