An Iranian woman begging for money on a street in Tehran

Iranian Media Describe Higher Prices, Rising Poverty In Recent Weeks

Thursday, 05/04/2023

The Iranian man took a jar of homemade pickles to the neighborhood shop and asked to barter it with a chicken as he had no money left, in the oil-rich country.

Media in Tehran and other cities are reporting dozens of similar cases as no one actually knows how much the annual inflation rate is after the government stopped publishing its monthly statistics.

Aftab News, a website which dares to be more critical of the authoritarian regime, quipped Wednesday that President Ebrahim Raisi still insists, “The progress by Iran has angered the enemies,” meaning the United States and its allies.

Mehr News Agency, a conservative website and a supporter of Iran’s hardliners reported that families share rented apartments, as they cannot afford the soaring security deposit and monthly rent.

Others simply must move to cheaper and cheaper areas, getting farther than the cities and have to commute somehow if they do not own a car. Vehicles have also become unaffordable for many with the cheapest options costing billions of rials.

Ordinary Iranian salaries are less than $200 a month, while rents for simple apartments have soared to beyond $300. Couples must work two jobs just to pay the rent.

Although Iranians have been losing their purchasing power since 2018 when their currency nosedived, the situation took a turn for the worse last September as the rial began to fall further, losing half its value. The US dollar rose from around 260,000 rials last August to near 550,000 in late April.

The minimum monthly income needed for bare necessities for a family of 3.3 people remains at around $500 a month, but the rials a family earns buys much less each week.

The political leadership, however, continues its nuclear program and its anti-West policies, so far refusing to compromise with the United States.

Even some real estate agents will soon be forced to go out of business as they cannot sell properties overpriced for the impoverished population. Some agencies close just one deal a month and cannot even afford rent for their own office.

Etemad newspaper reported that people who just a few months ago were helping others in need are now unable to afford their own groceries. Prices for eggs, milk, meat and rice have doubled in less than a year.

People passing by a shop for luxury cars in Tehran

“Until a few months ago there were upper middle-class people who were quietly leaving some money with neighborhood stores so that they could give out food to needy customers who were asking to buy things on credit,” Etemad wrote, “but in the last 6-7 months these philanthropists have disappeared.”

One such person who went to the butcher to pay the debts of those who could not pay, realized that most people were buying only chicken skin and bones, the newspaper reported.

One kilogram of chicken fillet now costs 1.8 million rials, while an ordinary salary is around 70,000 rials. A few months ago, the same chicken meat was sold at 630,000 rials. Now, people are forced to buy the cheaper parts, such as skin or stripped bones.

In poorer Tehran neighborhoods, even butchers are opting to close shop and start another business as far fewer people can afford beef or chicken.

Desperate people try to barter homemade jams or pickles for protein foods.

As million of people are becoming impoverished, Aftab News quotes psychologists and doctors about the damage inflicted by malnutrition on children and adults alike. While mothers have to breastfeed babies with intake of nutritious food, adults face more health problems, such as cancer, that many say has spiked in recent years.

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