Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's painful 'economic surgery' would not have been possible without the full support of the hardliner parliament, the media say.
Unlike all previous conservative dominated parliaments which obstructed plans by successive presidents to change the system of subsidizing essential commodities, the current ultraconservative parliament helped the Raisi government to do away with the heavy subsidies.
Moderate conservative Khabar Online website quoted economists in a new report published on Sunday, that without this support, Raisi would have faced the same obstacles as former Presidents Mohammad Khatami, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani.
The website argued that President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1988-1997) had managed to further his post-war reconstruction plans thanks to the people and the parliament's support, but he did not eradicate the subsidy system.
In fact, none of Iran’s post-war presidents were able to reduce the government’s role in the economy and stop cash handouts and subsidies, which in a way are part of the same state-centric economic model.
Khabar Online however argued that pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani (2013-2021) managed to further the nuclear talks with the West in his first term (2013-2017) thanks to the people's support.
However, the website did not mention that the talks could have not been furthered without the support of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and help by former parliament (Majles) Speaker Ali Larijani who had the nuclear agreement famously ratified within 20 minutes.
The Rouhani administration also tried to deal with the issue of state subsidies and its first step was to increase fuel prices, which led to Iran’s biggest anti-government protests in November 2019 during which security forces reportedly killed some 1,500 protesters.
This stopped any attempt to overhaul the subsidies until 2022, when the Raisi administration called on the ultraconservative-dominated parliament to allow a deep change. The surgery proved to be so painful that thousands of Iranians took to the streets in protest to rising prices and the administration banned using the term "economic surgery" by the media.
While anecdotal reports indicate that Raisi's recent remarks about imminent "tough decisions" are about the next step to further fuel prices hikes, reformist Sharq newspaper warned in an article by lawyer Siamak Qajar Qiunlu that this might not be the last surgery aimed at correcting Iran's ailing economy. The article quoted former conservative Majles Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel as saying that "No patient should be annoyed by tough surgeries because without them the patient will not be cured."
Qiunlu called Haddad's remarks an attempt at "justification" and asked: "What will remain of a patient who has been undergoing surgical operations by domestic and foreign surgeons for years?"
He then went on to argue that Iran’s confrontation with the West and the ensuing years of sanctions were also “surgeries” that ruined the lives of countless Iranians.
Sharq asked in a metaphorical style: "Will this latest operation cure Iran's ailing economy?" The paper added that Iran's history is full of stories about such surgical operations and the process appears to be endless. "But can we ask why we have fallen ill? What has caused the illness? Can anyone explain why the latest attempts to cure the patient had worsened his condition? And what is to be done if the patient can no longer take it and knows that another operation will kill him?"