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Iran: Rise In Gas Prices As Economy Deteriorates – OpEd

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has described proudly a massive find in the oil-rich Khuzestan province; He said the new field has more than 50 billion barrels of crude oil, which would boost the country’s proven reserves by a third. But as it turns out, the bold claim is less substantive and more for show , like the idle talk or hollow promise. Teresa Heinz (American-Portuguese businesswoman) has aptly said: “Political campaigns are the graveyard of real ideas and the birthplace of empty promises.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the former president made big promises when he took office in 2005. He said Iran’s oil income “would make itself felt at the dining table of every single family.” He also promised to create two million new jobs every year, bring unemployment to zero, and lower the inflation rate to under 10 percent. Eight years later, at the end of his second term, the reality is much more sobering. According to official figures, inflation is at 30 percent, unemployment at around 12 percent, and economic growth is negative.

Iran-Shushtar (Southwest) the protesters closed the road- Nov.15,2019
However, despite this massive new oil field, The Iranian regime has substantially raised fuel prices on midnight Friday with a senior official already resorting to lies and claiming the revenue would be used for subsidies to provide for 18 million needy families, according to state TV. Previously gasoline was not rationed and was sold for 10,000 Rials per liter. Now, the price of rationed gasoline is 33 percent higher and non-rationed fuel is priced at 30,000 Rials per liter; three times higher than before.

Iranian officials were discussing raising fuel prices for the past three years but the widespread protests and antigovernment movements during the last 3 years, halted the plan. However, Iran’s oil exports have almost stopped under the U.S. sanctions and the government is pressed to raise revenues. Iranians use 90 million liters of gasoline every day and if the government makes an average of 8 cents more per liter, it will have an additional seven million dollars a day revenue or $2.5 billion a year.

Following the news of such drastic gasoline the price increase, a large number of people held gatherings and protests in 18 major cities by now. Many are saying they are refusing to purchase gasoline in a sign of protest to the mullahs’ latest measure aimed at further plundering the Iranian people.

In Karaj, west of the capital Tehran, a brave woman began shouting outside a gasoline station, calling on people to turn off their vehicles in the middle of the road and join ranks in protesting the regime’s measures.

Iranian officials have also dispatched anti-riot units and various security forces to gasoline stations across the country in fear of protests escalating and erupting out of control. This latest price hike came without any prior warning, demanding 15,000 Rials for the first 60 liters per month of regular gasoline for each private car and 30,000 Rials for additional purchases.

The modification has received the approval of the Supreme Economic Coordination Council associated with the regime’s three governing branches.

Higher fuel prices will lead to more popular dissatisfaction and was a risky step for the government to take. It will also lead to more inflation, making life harder for ordinary people already squeezed by a 40 percent inflation rate.

The Iranian regime, despite sitting on the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves have failed to adequately provide its domestic needs and resorts to such price hikes to provide the budget needed for the mullahs’ terrorism drive and other malign activities.

Even regime officials have been expressing concerns about such a gasoline price hike. Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the chairperson of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Relations Committee, voiced concerns about the country being a powder keg.

“Considering the popular anger and concern about the price increase of fuel, the government is obliged to consider the possible consequences and societal damages of any decision and its decisions must have social reasons,” he said back in May.

However, Jalal Mirzaii, member of the Energy Commission in Majlis and a close aid of the Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani’s faction explained how senior Iranian regime officials are in line with the necessity to further plunder the Iranian people. “This is a decision collectively made by the heads of the three branches of power. This is one of the few issues where the heads of the three branches have accepted responsibility and made a final decision,” he said.

It is worth noting that increasing fuel prices led to popular and violent protests during the tenure of the former Iranian regime President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005 to 2013). Considering the current state of the Iranian economy, increasing fuel prices could be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back and causes a popular uprising that is already looming large over the Islamic republic’s reign.



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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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