Analysis: Iran's economic promises

Comparing Ahmadinejad's promises with what he delivered since his election as president of Iran.

    Iranian bazaars are busy but shoppers face rising inflation [Al Jazeera]

    People voted for change when they elected the former mayor of Tehran as their president 18 months ago.

    Riding high on a populist ticket, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised to distribute the country's wealth more evenly to help those less well off.

    Iran's oil income has been the main engine of the country's modernisation in the last 40 years, and with the soaring price in oil after Ahmadinejad took power, he was supposed to face less trouble than his predecessors in distributing the wealth.

    It is these promises of a better life that most interests the people here than their president's pursuit of a nuclear programme.

    Promises, promises

    For some, the president's assurances of more money have not amounted to much.

    Ali Haghi's grocery bring in a
    meagre income [Al Jazeera]

    Ali Haghi is 66 years old and a grandfather; he lives in the rundown neighbourhood of Yaftabad in the south of Tehran.

    Ali runs a tiny grocery shop, and he is a staunch supporter of president Ahmadinejad but says he doesn't understand the country's pursuit of nuclear power.

    He says that is not why he voted for the president.

    "The government should come and see our situation and how we live. This is my life. I make a living out of this shop. The most I make a day is $13, imagine how much I have to make in order to eat and not die."

    Many others in this part of Tehran are struggling and expect the government to do more to help them.

    Economic doctrine

    Saeed Laylaz is leading economist and a vocal critic of president Ahmadinejad's economic policies.

    He is very concerned about the next hike in inflation, which he expects to happen in April. His main worry is social discontent and civil unrest.

    "He promised to reduce interest rates, to reduce unemployment and to remove any gap between high-level incomes and low-level incomes. He promised to remove all the corruption in the country," he says. 

    Tehran's stock market is struggling
    to get back on its feet [Al Jazeera]
    "Frankly speaking none of his promises have been delivered, and because of this people are more angry and upset, because of his policies and performance."

    Economic instability caused Iran's small stock exchange to fall shortly after president Ahmadinejad came to power.

    It has been struggling to get back on its feet ever since. But some believe it is not all the fault of the government.

    Bijan Khajehpour, a business consultant says a lack of coordination means progress is slow and that frustrates people, then they blame the government.

    "Progress has been slow and that frustrates people," he says, "and the first state parameter that people look at, because they're closer to it, is the government.
    "It's a much larger problem than the government can fix; it takes a very co-ordinated effort by all the state institutions and it takes the political will, and the economic doctrine."

    Positive economic changes take time. They do not happen overnight and Iran's economy may take years to become stable.

    For ordinary people like Ali Haghi, even one year is a long time to wait.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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