ISSN 2330-717X

Iran: Raisi’s Government Plan, Is It Investment Or Withdrawal From Banks For The Budget Deficit? – OpEd

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Recently, Raisi’s government has talked about signing a memorandum of understanding to invest in three mega-projects in the amount of forty-two billion dollars. These three mega-projects are:

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1. The implementation of forty-eight industrial projects in which seven large domestic companies are involved (Naft and Energy site, 6, February 2022)

2. Integrated development of Azadegan joint oil field, in which six banks and 6 Iranian companies are going to invest (IRNA, 5, July 2022).

3. The construction of two refinery complexes in Bandar Abbas and Jask worth 17.8 billion dollars and each with a production capacity of 300,000 barrels per day. Six banks, two economic groups and two Iranian companies are going to invest in these two projects (Raja News, 1, August 2022).

Raisi in July 2022 in Tabriz had said:

“We are going to follow the movement of finishing half-finished projects. Half-finished projects make people suffer…”

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And in June 2022 he also had said:

These half-finished projects have made people sad. We have had half-finished projects in the country for 50 years. How long should these projects stay in this state?

Facts and conclusions:

Now let us see if the intention of Raisi’s government is to realize these three mega projects for the above goals or if there are other goals under the guise of implementing an industrial project!

To evaluate this issue, we will examine the situation of these banks and economic facts.

· Of the six banks mentioned in the text of the memorandum, only five banks, Melli, Mellat, Tejarat, Parsian, and Refah Kargaran Bank, have been mentioned, and the name of the sixth bank has not been specified.

· According to the published news, Khatam’s headquarters, Khomeini’s executive headquarters, and Mostazafan Foundation are also supposed to be present in these projects.

· Reviewing the news from regime’s own economic media, it becomes clear that the construction of two Petro-refineries in Jask and Bandar Abbas are not a newly planned project! But nothing has been done!

· Makran Refinery is the same project that Tesco announced in 2019 that it had started concreting, and on 26, December 2020, its construction was once again notified to ENERCHIMI Company (ENERCHIMI website, 26, December 2020). But nothing has been done!

· Bandar Abbas Petro Refinery is the same project that Khatam’s headquarters had laid the foundation stone for on 24th of September 2020 in the presence of IRGC’s Commander Salami, but nothing has been done there. (Asr Iran website, 24, September 2020)

The only difference between the previous and current plans for these projects is the entry of banks to invest in them. Raisi at the signing ceremony of the memorandum said: “What the banks are doing today is to coordinate with each other for big investment in the oil and gas sector”.

But a look at the situation of these banks shows they are not able to make such investments because these banks had huge accumulated losses at the end of 2019. (Tejarat News, 7, July 2022). The losses of the mentioned banks until the end of 2019 are as follows (Tejarat News 7, July 2022):

· Melli Bank, sixty-six thousand billion tomans,

· Sepah Bank, thirty-five thousand billion tomans

· Shahr Bank, twenty-two thousand billion tomans

· Parsian Bank, twelve thousand billion tomans.

In the case of Tejarat Bank, it is stated in a specialized website that it had an accumulated loss of four thousand billion tomans at the end of Persian calendar year 1399 which is in March 2021.

Considering the deterioration of the economic situation, these losses has increase in 2021.

Therefore, it can be said that Raisi is pursuing two goals by signing these memorandums.

A. Propaganda and false hope to insider forces. To prevent falling. Raisi had said many times: “Today, the de facto duty of all of us is to give hope to the people.”

B. The more important goal and the main goal of Raisi is to withdraw money from banks and people’s money under the pretext of investment to compensate for the government budget deficit.

This is very similar to what Rouhani did with the stock market! Tejarat News on 21st of April 2021 wrote: “What did the Minister of Economy do with people’s capital?” Employees’ salaries were paid with stock exchange money!

Hassan Mahmoudi

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and Social Media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.

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