Khamenei, Rouhani Vie Over Economy

March 20, 2017
Updated

On the Persian New Year, Nowruz, Iran’s supreme leader and president gave conflicting assessments about Iran’s economy. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the middle and lower classes had suffered during the year from unemployment and high prices. He added that, despite the government’s efforts, “There is a large gap between what has been carried out” and what people expect. In both his March 20 statement and a March 21 speech, Khamenei renewed his call for a “resistance economy” to increase domestic production and create jobs, putting pressure on President Rouhani ahead of the May presidential election. Khamenei has emphasized self-sufficiency as key to economic prosperity whereas President Rouhani has worked hard to increase international trade and investment. Khamenei told pilgrims in Mashhad that he was anticipating an “inclusive and vibrant” election. He said the results should be respected and that he would not intervene unless some act to undermine the process. 

 

In contrast, Rouhani gave a much more favorable review of the economy in his nationally televised address on March 20. “What we achieved in last year in harnessing inflation and achieving economic growth and employment, was second to none in 25 years.” He acknowledged shortcomings of his government on youth unemployment and wages but was optimistic that the coming new year will be one of “progress and development.” The full text of both speeches are below. 

 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

O Conqueror of hearts and sight

O Planner of night and day

O Transformer of power and circumstances

Change our condition to the best of conditions!

Allah, send Your greetings to Fatima, to her father, her husband and her children

I would like to congratulate all you dear compatriots on the auspicious birthday anniversary of Hazrat Fatima Zahra – Siddiqat al-Kubra (God’s greetings be upon her) – and on the Eid of Nowruz. I wish a happy Eid for you dear compatriots, for the great people of Iran, for the dear youth and for people from various social backgrounds. In particular, I would like to congratulate the dear families of the martyrs, the disabled war veterans and also all those nations which are familiar with the Nowruz Eid and which celebrate it.

I thank Allah the Exalted for giving me the opportunity to once more congratulate you dear people of Iran on the Eid of Nowruz. I hope that a very good, auspicious and blessed year – accompanied by security and welfare – will be waiting for the people of Iran and that by Allah’s favor, the year 1396 will be a happy year for all the people of Iran and for Muslims throughout the world.

I hope that during the year that has just begun at this moment, all Iranian families and all dear Iranians will benefit from divine kindness, mercy and blessings.

If we want to evaluate the year that has passed – the year 1395 – it included happy and sad events, bitter and sweet events, just like all other years. What I mean is bitter and sweet events as they relate to the people, not personal matters.

We had sweet events in the previous year. We experienced sweet events related to national dignity, national security, youthful determination among the people of Iran and all-inclusive religious moves all over the country. We also experienced bitter events which were mainly related to economic and social matters. I will expand on this later on.

The dignity of Iran and our dear people was visible throughout the year 1395. It was visible from the beginning to the end of the year. Our enemies across the world acknowledged the power and greatness of the people of Iran. The identity of the people of Iran showed itself during all the various events that took place in this year.

With one disrespectful act committed by the American president against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the people responded on the 22nd of Bahman in an enthusiastic, passionate and courageous manner. On Quds Day too, in the auspicious month of Ramadan, the great gathering of the people showed the identity and the goals of this country to all the people around the world.

The security of the country in this turbulent regional and international environment was a very important and great factor for the people of Iran. Today, our neighboring countries – countries located to the east, southeast and northwest of our country – are suffering from insecurity. The region is suffering from insecurity, but the people of Iran thankfully experienced enduring security throughout the year.

My reference to “youthful determination” originates from witnessing and being aware of the activities of thousands of young groups throughout the country. These youth are busy attending to their enthusiastic activities in the fields of science, culture, sports and production. They are presenting new achievements and innovations and they are providing provisions for the future of the country.

And when I referred to “religious moves”, I meant the enthusiastic, warm and attractive religious meetings that existed throughout the year. These meetings were attended on the subject of the Imams (greetings be upon them), important religious matters, itikaf, various prayers, the month of Ramadan, the Arbaeen rally, important occasions related to Ashura and the ten-day Muharram events. These were the positive and happy points for our country and our people.

And the bitter and difficult events were mostly related to the people’s economic and livelihood problems. The middle and lower classes of society were suffering from these problems and they continue to do so in the present time. Because I am aware of the people’s condition, I feel bitterness with all my heart. I feel the bitterness that the people – particularly lower and underprivileged classes – experience. And this bitterness is related to economic matters and problems such as high prices, unemployment and social detriments – for example, discrimination and inequality - which mainly originate from economic matters.

Well, all of us are responsible. We will have to answer both to Allah the Exalted and to the people. In the year of action and implementation – the year 1395 – I asked the honorable officials to establish a command center for action and implementation and they did so. Good tasks were fortunately carried out which was reported to us. However, there is a large gap between what has been carried out, and what the people and what we expect.

I will explain in my speech [annual speech in Mashhad] that some of the standards and statistics presented by officials are positive figures and some – which are presented by officials themselves – are negative. All these things should be seen together.

The economy of resistance is a system. If this system receives attention only under the name of the economy of resistance, it might prove to be not very efficient. In my opinion, the cure lies in dividing this system into important sectors and then specifying a timetable for each key and important sector. We should ask officials, prominent personalities and the masses of the people to focus all their effort on those key sectors.

In my opinion, the cure lies in identifying this key sector correctly this year. I believe that this key sector is production – domestic production – and employment, mainly of our youth. These are the main and key sectors. If we manage to focus on these two sectors and plan and categorize our affairs on this basis, I believe that the task will move forward to a great extent and impressive and tangible achievements will be made.

By Allah’s favor, I will explain in the speech the characteristics that are related to these two key and fundamental sectors. That is why, the name that I choose for this year is, “Economy of Resistance: Production and Employment”. 

The economy of resistance is a general term which is accompanied by production and employment. These are the sectors that everyone should focus on. I and the people demand that the dear and honorable officials focus on these two sectors, carry out tasks with planning, and report the results to the people at the end of the year, God willing.

I hope that all will enjoy and experience a happy and joyful year – one that will be accompanied by security and welfare – in the shade of the blessings of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for him) and with the prayers of the pure souls of our martyrs and our magnanimous Imam (r.a.).

Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings

—March 20, 2017, in a statement to the nation

 

“I will touch both of these issues; currently, economic issues constitute priorities for the nation and the country, not for the time being, but it had been so for years; the need to strict planning had been the most felt need; it is a priority for us, but it is also so for the enemies; they resort to economic pressures in order to subdue the country in line with their own interests.

“A general attempt is to make people falter in their support for the Revolution and the Establishment; their efforts however have not yielded outcomes and will not either in the future.”

“A major purpose is to make aware the officials and the government; economic problems are important in that they hit the general public most; this should be debated; however, two other related issues should be reminded; the first is enemies’ propaganda that generally displayed an image of the Establishment as inefficient in addressing pressing issues of the country in economy; this is an abuse of our conditions to hit the Revolution; this is inaccurate which has roots in their historic enmity toward the system; the services had not been so little to intentionally leave out of the claims by the enemy; we should however admit the shortcomings and pitfalls.”

“In the past four decades, the nation has been systematically hit by sanctions and restrictions by the international imperialism; the population has almost doubled; the sweep of the services since the Revolution has been unparalleled by almost other countries, almost in all sectors, the figures are staggering; for example, our exports had increased almost 57 times compared to those before the Revolution.”

“Revolution contributed to these figures; in terms of university, now we have 5 million students doing research; in social development, in terms of services provided to underprivileged regions, and other sectors, the figures are brilliant; enemies see all these; this is not exhaustive however, and we believe the Revolution could not abandon its movement forward; with pitfalls and shortcomings, I would begin with myself as an official; since the past, in specific sections of the country, in circles indifferent to Revolutionary ideals, lethargy had been ruling the system, rendering it almost unproductive and functioning; an efficient, Revolutionary management will definitely solve problems of any sort.”

“As such, the potentials are huge, and our claims and predictions on future advancement hinges upon such huge capacities; we are among the wealthy countries in terms of natural resources; in human terms, we enjoy young university graduates, potentially productive and innovative; 33 million people are in age of production and labor; this is documented by the figures from authorities, which could accept responsibilities, heavy and ambitious.”

“With almost a single percent of the world population, Iran has modest percentages of natural resources, oil and gas, and mines; such a wealthy country had been subject to the greed and envy of the great powers, and this has been an unfulfilled dream of theirs and will not be fulfilled in the future. With a time pressure, I will turn to solutions; the nation needs security, public welfare and health; these we should address to attain; independence is a priority also; we want the nation’s comfort; national glory and strength, I believe, should be achieved through a robust economy which relies on its own resources and talents; in such an economy, nation could decide on its own, to save its national currency and purchase power; a second factor to contribute to strong economy is responsible officials and national unity.”

“In Resistance Economy, the obvious pitfalls are unemployment of the young university graduates, poverty rampant among the lower social strata; the general public grapple with such problems as to make the ends meet; and other issues as well, on which the enemies are working to maneuver; economic observers and the academia are true in their verdict that recession and unemployment are causes to blame; the greater machinery of Resistance Economy, divided into different parts, would contribute to economy more effectively; in the past year, the results have been modest, but not as it should have been.”

“On small productive firms, the system had done a tenable job; however, the results had been suboptimal; the progress had come short of satisfying the predictions and targets; the executive side should be reworked to address the pitfalls; the economic indicators have turned either for good or bad; the growth rate is positive; in oil sector, we see progress, but in mining, for example, the growth is not hope-inspiring; the past should not be emphasized however; the future should come to the fore; a major recommendation is to rely on domestic economic. It is a key concept for the officials, on which they should be accountable to the public demand and question; the current pressing issue, as immediate as it is felt, is domestic production, which has great ramifications as well; production contributes positively to tackling high figures of unemployment by creating jobs.”

“In an active and growing economy, innovative young talents would find channels to be flourished; in a working economy, stagnant money would contribute to the wealth of the country.

“Unemployment contributes negatively to social evils; a working economy could attract channel energies of the youth to healthy activities; these are only summary of what production may contribute to national economy; we are potentials to achieve production; some are to be obtained; a successful production could easily achieved by active population in age of labor; university graduates are wealth of the nation. Iran produced engineers more than any country; assets are also available; the government had succeeded in establishing of a National Development Fund, which would reserve oil money, however a percentage of that, to contribute to the public reserve; by now, it should have reserve a lump sum, which would free the country from the yolk of oil, on which the country is so heavily dependent, the price of which is set by the super powers."

“On the advanced means of production, I believe, we are in a place to rely on our own talents, which have been successful in uranium enrichment as a strategic part; our young scientists have gone a long way from 3.5 per cent to 20 per cent; this is laudable; with sanctions, they had surprised the Zionist regime to admit, while humiliated, our achievements in military sector; so, talents are not infrequent in other sectors as well; they should be given opportunity and recognition to contribute to national glory; universities welcome cooperation with the industry; the progress is modest; they should participate still further to have a share of the national progress.”

“There is no end to progress and excellence; however, there is also requirements as well, to which the officials should attend; receiving public participation through Article 144 of the Constitution through privatization of industries is a must; in defense, we have this experience, while classical armies in other parts of the world solely defended the borders; but our people contributed to the war of 1980s; economy is no exception and people should be given scope and we will see that they will flourish; exports should also be on the center; only few countries are partners with Iran, which violates the Resistance Economy policies; we should work with more than 5 or 6 countries; the security of the investments and national economy should also be protected; the unnecessary paper work should be removed; the public however should accept their share of responsibility and contribution as well; they are not only producers, but also they are consumers; the domestic consumer should set a priority to buy national brands, shunning foreign brand names; this is a genuine demand; young cohort should also take their role seriously; the exports should gain in quality, not solely the quantity should be the first; foreigners should receive our best exports and no mediocre products should be exported.”

“The domestic production should not be offset by imports as it is unnecessary and source of humiliation; since it hits the domestic production and deprive them of competition; the most essential goods should be imported, not every good which is produced domestically should be imported in great quantities.”

“The [presidential] election is a pivot of the religious democracy; election process is a source of glory and honor to the nation against foreign claims to the contrary; it is source of national unity and makes the nation standing in line with a single lofty objective: to defeat the many political and government systems; the Revolution provided the religious democracy which is based on elections; to participate and a high turnout is important to which all should contribute.”

“Any result coming from the ballot boxes should be respected; I would not intervene in elections, however would do so when specific people and circles wanted to undermine the results of elections, as it had been in past elections; some of my interventions had been behind the curtains, but some have been publicly announced; public should make their choices and I invest hope much on the high turnout; in a successful election, the nation will be triumphant and the enemies will definitely despair on the prospects of their virtual failure.”

—March 21, 2017, in an address to pilgrims at Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad via Mehr News

 

President Hassan Rouhani

RouhaniIn the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Praise be to Allah, and blessings be on His messenger, his family and his companions

I congratulate the auspicious Nowruz festival to the great Iranian nation, Iranians residing outside of the country, and all nations of the region that celebrate Nowruz, to the families of martyrs, wounded war veterans, prisoners of war and all veterans, especially to those who are serving the Iranian nation in the society, borders, and healthcare and relief services instead of being at home with their families.

This year we have a year full of blessings because it is concurrent with the birthday of H.H. Fatima al-Zahra (AS) and heavenly and divine blessings. God-willing, we will follow the path of unity and empathy and efforts for our country’s pride.

The message of Nowruz for us is letting grudges go. The message of Nowruz for us is the message of prosperity and liveliness. In this year that we have elections coming, we need to learn the necessary lessons of Nowruz and nature more than ever.

Year 1395 was the year of both implementing “Resistive Economy; Action and Deed” and the implementation of nuclear agreement; and these two had a positive role and effect for us.

I deem it necessary to appreciate the dear farmers for their efforts in increasing agricultural products and contributing to wheat self-sufficiency.

I also thank workers and industrialists for the considerable growth in industrial production, increasing production of some products to two times more than last year. In this year, with the help of banks, 24000 industrial units were activated.

I thank the oil industry engineers and workers for their extraordinary efforts in doubling oil and gas condensate production.

We were able to reclaim our rights and regain our position in the oil market with oil diplomacy and efforts of you engineers and workers.

It was because of these efforts that we achieved the 8-percent economic growth rate for the first time after the 20-year outlook document announced by the Supreme Leader.

I deem it necessary to thank doctors and nurses for taking medical services to the outskirts of towns and rural areas; and this is why our people are being treated in hospitals with less cost than before.

I also want to thank teachers, professors and the educated for making us proud among all developed countries.

I see it necessary to appreciate athletes and artists for bringing us international and domestic honours and national pride. I also want to thank our dear women, one of whom won a medal in the Olympics for the first time.

All of these brought happiness for our dear people in year 1395.

Of course, we had some bitter incidents and shortcomings in 1395: the train incident, Plasco building fire, dust in some provinces, floods and other issues for our dear people. We also lost Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani who was the longstanding companion to the Revolution.

The new year will be the year of progress and development for our dear nation. The new year will be the year of more employment for our youths. We need to carry out more efforts to compensate for the shortcomings.

What we achieved in last year in harnessing inflation and achieving economic growth and employment, was second to none in 25 years. We need to continue the decreasing trend of inflation and the growing trend of economic growth.

We could increase wages and salaries of workers and employees to more than the inflation rate and this means that our people can have more welfare.

Both in year 1395 and year 1394 our non-oil exports were more than our imports. Therefore, we need to say bravo to all entrepreneurs and exporters for making our nation proud.

In the new year, people should be able to use the cyberspace for acquiring knowledge, science, information and promoting their business. This was one of the efforts of the 11th government and we will continue along this path.

The cyberspace must be as secure place for our people and we are seeking to eliminate the security atmosphere in cultural and social fields, replacing it with brotherhood, friendship and kindness.

During last year, the Charter of Citizens’ Rights was published as it was promised before. This year, we will implement and put the charter in operation.

Everybody should know that the nation and people are the owners of the country. Everybody should know that if anyone violates citizens’ rights, they will pay the price.

The new year will be the year of development of transportation, in railroads in five provinces, in our fleet of airliners, maritime transportation, and transit with different countries.

In the new year, we have two important elections ahead of us. We all must try to have a more active role and presence. We must turn out in large in healthy and legal elections.

In the previous elections, there were times that we had moral shortcomings and we need to compensate for the shortcomings. The difference between elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran and other countries must be in the field of moralities and proper social atmosphere.

God-willing we will join hands and have very good elections. I hope our dear country be safe in the current year and coming years; I hope our dear and proud people of Iran live their lives with more unity and economic prosperity.

God-willing,

Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you all

—March 20, 2017, in a statement to the nation 

Updated