Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ahmadinejad's economic follies and blunders continue

A casual glance at the economic performance of Ahmadinejad’s government in the past 5 years, especially last year, makes it easy to fathom the near crippling inflation, rising unemployment and worst of all, the relentless destruction of indigenous industry brought on by Ahmadinejad’s one sided import policies.

The brunt of the administration’s failure and incompetence is borne by the poor class whose numbers are alarmingly rising and expanding to include the lower sections of the middle class also. Increasingly depressing news regarding labourers and factory workers are rife. Whether that is non-payment of their salaries for as long as 9-10 months or imprisonment for merely demanding their rightful salaries to sustain their families. Labour activists have been arrested and sentenced to many years of prison for voicing their grievances against the small but powerful ruling class!

And now comes the news of yet another blow to this ever expanding sector. According to economic experts, the poverty line stands somewhere near $900 per month, while the government officials try to downplay the number and trumpet numbers in the ballpark of $600 to $650. It is hard to miss the tragic sleight of hand that the very same autocrats with their erroneously low statistics, have yet set the minimum wage for the labourers for a family of four at $303. Half of what they deem (erroneously) as the rock bottom line for survival!

A major reason for industry’s inability to pay wages is the same import-craze that floods the market with cheap Chinese and low quality goods of all kinds, stifling home grown production and manufacturing. Even village-industry handicrafts carry the “Made in China” label! The damage is distributed throughout the country, from agricultural products to small & large industry. The pricing discrepancy and the consequent lack of a fair market competition has resulted in abysmal numbers for industrial growth. Even the airbrushed government figures of 6-6.5% for the previous year will be reduced to almost nil or at best 1% for the coming year. At the same time, the inflation rate was officially announced to be around 37%, which puts the real rate somewhere above 40%. We might as well brace ourselves for another series of woes as the regime faces a diminishing market for its oil with countries like Japan, India and even China reducing their purchase of Iranian oil. Not to mention the downgrading of investment by multinational corporations like India’s Reliance and Russia’s Lukoil. Although the Malaysian company, Petronas and the French Total are yet to join in the fray and reduce or stop their supply of refined petrol to Iran. Petronas and Total have the lion's share in supply of refined petrol to Iran.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad’s remedy to all these troubles, is to distribute whatever wealth we have left across the world! He has promised a “loan” of more than $100 Million to Ecuador at the incredible interest rate of 0.5% on the eve of their president’s visit to Tehran. In return, Ecuador’s president cancels his visit and sends a lowly mission to Tehran to collect the “loan ”! Ecuador was also the recipient of another $40 Million investment towards the building of two energy sector projects .

Within the last 5 years such “loans” and donations have been extended to countries like Sri Lanka ($1.95 Billion), Bolivia ($225 Million), Venezuela ($1 Billion), Afghanistan ($100 Million), and a plethora of other countries like Nicaragua, Myanmar, Kenya, Tanzania, Gambia, Zimbabwe, St. Vincent, … the list only grows, besides the usual recipients like Syria, Lebanon’s terrorist group Hizbullah and other terrorist entities like the Palestinian Hamas. In Perhaps this foolish largesse is with the aim of buying a “nay” vote in international arguments regarding U.N. resolutions or sanctions against Iran. While Nero merrily fiddles in this way, a large swath of Iranian children, the rightful owners of this wealth are homeless and go to sleep hungry. And Iranian factory workers and labourers continue to struggle to find the means to feed their families while waiting in fast fading hope for their overdue-by-a-year wages.

All this points to an extremely tumultuous year for the illegitimate government and a regime that is losing its scant popularity among their hardcore minority, as more and more of the population is affected by the terrible policies and negligence of people’s dire circumstances.

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