By Hossein Beizayi
“A full understanding of the budget planning and preparation system is essential, not just to derive expenditure projections but to be able to advise policymakers on the feasibility and desirability of specific budget proposals, from a macroeconomic or microeconomic perspective. It is much easier to control government expenditures at the ‘upstream’ point of budget preparation than later during the execution of the budget.”
In most countries, an annual budget is a well-thought and, thorough process, a collaboration between politicians, economists, military brass, and many others. An annual budget is intended to lay out a country’s projected income and expenses for a 12-month period. The process of creating an annual budget involves balancing out a country’s sources of income against its expenses in a practical and logical manner.
A comprehensive and progressive budget is one in which its citizens’ welfare and wellbeing take priority and pave the way for advancements in technology, environment, education, medical, exploration, etc.
In Iran, however, the country’s annual budgets in different governments share a common denominator, although they differ in how they have been drafted and the allocation of the budget money. Iran’s proposed budgets have never placed the wellbeing of Iranians as one of its top priorities. The budgets have been manifested in a way so that the IRGC (Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp) and its affiliated companies and organizations, the state broadcaster, the main propaganda arm of the regime, and a host of other regime-affiliated entities benefit immensely. One does not need to conduct a profound study to understand this commonality in Iran’s budget presented to the parliament by different presidents. A glance at Ebrahim Raisi’s government budget presented to the parliament less than two weeks ago mirrors this reality.
Overview of Iran’s Budget System
The government budget consists of two parts. The first part is called the General Government Budget, which includes government expenditures, departments, salaries, and development budgets.
The second part deals with the so-called non-governmental companies and the foundations affiliated with the regime, including the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the military, and their affiliates. The Khatam al-Anbiya Headquarters and foundations under the regime’s Supreme Leader’s control also receive a budget double the size of the General Government Budget. These foundations and companies control billions of dollars, and the regime solely uses this money for domestic oppression or the export of terrorism. These foundations are exempt from paying taxes, and they are never audited or held accountable for their income and expenses.
“These companies that receive 20,000 trillion rials of budget, which is more than the country’s general budget, are on their own path and do as they like. They do not care about the laws we pass here,” Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the regime’s parliament speaker said on December 14.
Raisi’s 2022-2023 budget allocation at a glance
In Raisi’s 2022-2023 budget draft bill presented to parliament on Sunday, the government proposed a 930 trillion rial budget for the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, IRGC. Last year that number was 380 trillion rials, and the year before, 240 trillion.
According to the state-run Hamdeli daily on December 13, “The amount of budget allocated to the Broadcasting Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRIB) is 5,200 trillion rials. Meanwhile, the budget of this organization in 2019-2020 was equal to 3,300 trillion rials, which shows a growth of 56 percent.” This growth of 56 percent is nearly four times more than the 10 percent raise of the minimum wage base.
According to the state-run Tejarat News website, 43 religious institutions will receive a budget of 7.252 trillion tomans in 2022-2023. Meanwhile, the Seminary Services Center’s budget has increased by about 25 percent from 779 billion tomans in 2020 to 1 trillion tomans in 2022-2023.
The presidential institution’s budget during Hassan Rouhani was 5 trillion rials. In Raisi’s 2022-2023 budget bill, the regime increased it to 14 trillion rials. The budget of seminaries and their affiliated institutions is nine times more than the university’s budget.
Only one-third of the regime’s budget for the upcoming Persian year (2022-2023) has been allocated to public expenses with ample ambiguities and non-transparencies.
Iranian people’s share of the budget
The Iranian people and their demands are nearly ignored in Raisi’s 2022-2023 budget bill. According to the state-run ILNA News Agency on December 13, “The least attention has been paid to the welfare of the family in the country’s budget.”
“With the minimum wage set by the government in the 1401 budget, the purchasing power of the Iranians will decrease, and next year we will see a deepening of social difference between the various economic classes and an increase in relative poverty and absolute poverty,” ILNA adds.
According to ILNA, Raisi’s “government has completely ignored the inflation in1400, and no compensation has been found for it. All these issues show that we will see rising inflation in 1401, and the expenses created in next year’s budget will be added to people’s living expenses.”
Raisi’s 2022-2023 budget and the unprecedented increase of military budget show that Tehran will increase its domestic oppression and export of terrorism abroad. Allocating such a large budget to terrorist entities like the IRGC means the regime would not stop its malign activities within Iran and beyond. Raisi’s budget plans to impose taxes on poor Iranians who mostly live under the poverty line and have severe challenges to meet their daily needs. Raisi’s budget has refused to address Iran’s disastrous environmental, economic, and social crises that seriously impact people’s lives.
With the volatile situation of Iran’s society, the almost collapsed economy of the country due to colossal mismanagement and government corruption, with staggering inflation and unemployment, with the rise of people’s discontent and dissatisfaction with the government, with the limbo state of the Vienna negotiations and most importantly with the Iranian people’s desire for regime change, Ebrahim Raisi’s budget and its implication will prove to become a driving force for the people of Iran to bury this regime for good and bring about a democratic government.