Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, January 8, 2021—In its 2021 budget proposal, the government of Iranian regime president Hassan Rouhani has included a quota to equalize pensions which is contrary to the main demands of pensioners and, if implemented, is entirely in the interests of the regime-affiliated pensioners who already receive high salaries.
On December 26, 2020, Tasnim News Agency, affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), ran an interview with Shaker Ebrahimi, the head of the regime’s Council of Labor in Kurdistan province, in which he said: “Those who receive high salaries benefit from the pensions equalization and, unfortunately the lower classes of society are forsaken as always.”
While a low increase in pensions is insufficient to provide for the livelihood of retired government employees, it is not the only injustice that pensioners suffer from. Regime officials in the Social Security Fund have also stolen and looted this organization’s money, money that pensioners have paid as social and pensions insurance throughout their years of service.
As a matter of fact, in their ongoing power struggles, the regime’s factions occasionally expose the corruption and embezzlements of rival officials in the Social Security Organization.
Saeed Mortazavi, a notorious judge who has issued many death sentences and is the main perpetrator of the torture of activists and protester in the notorious Kahrizak prison, was one of the officials who presided this organization and took advantage of his power to bribe other corrupt officials.
Now, while the Rouhani government claims that it wants to increase and equalize pensions in the 2021 budget proposal, Shakir Ebrahimi admits that this plan is only in the favor of the regime-affiliated elements.
Acknowledging this rough situation, on December 27, 2020, the state-run Kar-va Kargar daily wrote: “The Social Security Organization is on the verge of bankruptcy and as a result, the problems that pensioners are facing will be doubled in 2021.”
The report also cited the Pension Funds crisis as “one of the chief crises and challenges in the country” adding: " The Rural and Nomadic Social Insurance Fund is the one and only fund out of 20 Pension Funds in the country that is still working and the rest of the country's Pension Funds are in critical situation or on the verge of crisis.”
“The future of the Social Security Administration is the most concerning issue compared to those of other Funds. More than 65 percent of the country's population, more than 42 million people, are somehow dependent on this Insurance Fund, and as a result, the effort to maintain this fund is an effort to maintain the country's social security,” it added.
“The crisis in Social Security is a ‘national crisis’ that endangers the national security,” said Akbar Shokat, a labor member of the Social Security Organization's board of trustees.
Another problem, apart from dominance of the regime-affiliated corrupt elements in the Pension Funds is that the government has not been paying its portion to the Funds for years and Rouhani’s government currently owes a considerable amount to it.
“Today, the government’s net debt figure to the Organization, without taking into account the compound interest, is over 3,400 trillion rials. The government does not take any responsibility towards the Social Security Organization, whereas the same organization pays 85 percent of the expenditures of the national fund, and this has deteriorated the living conditions of the pensioners in various dimensions.” (December27, 2020, state-run Resalat daily)
Due to the existing circumstances, pensioners, in particular labor pensioners, will experience hard situation in 2021.
The regime pays low inadequate pensions while, the least amount of the living basket is 100 million rials and many items have faced above 200 percent inflation rate. Even if the equalization plan is implemented, the pension will reach 50 million rials, which is half of the poverty line.
Discussing the allocation of 900 trillion rials for the implementation of the equalization in the pension funds, a regime-linked analyst named Hassan Sadeghi, in an interview with state-run Kar-o Kargar daily, said: “No one knows clearly how this 900 trillion rials will be spent. Eventually, the Social Security will be chopped up like mincemeat. Considering that those who have been insured through the Social Security and the pensioners and retirees make up a family of about 50 million people, at least 550 trillion rials of this budget should be allocated to workers and retirees in Social Security payments and livelihood assistance.
“On the other hand, the population of pensioners and those who are living on Social Security program, excluding their families, is about 17 million. Meanwhile, not even a penny of this 900 trillion rials budget has been specifically allocated to them.”
It is crystal clear that the pensions equalization plan is a deceptive measure to curb the protests of pensioners and an act in fear of the workers and retirees’ outrage, and it will not remedy any of their difficulties and livelihood problems.
This is how the regime is looting pensioners who have worked for close to 30 years in the government’s service. They have paid significant amount of their salaries monthly so that a minimum subsistence and trouble-free life can be provided in their retirement years, but the regime has plundered their savings. Now, under the mullahs’ rule, they live on the edge of poverty, getting through rough conditions in the pandemic, and if they get sick, like other segments of the Iranian society, they will face a bitter fate. This situation is the result of an oppressive and corrupt regime.
The state-run media and regime officials admit that 2021 budget proposal is obviously squeezing the deprived and pensioners while it lays the groundwork for skyrocketing payment to the regime-linked individuals and the rich. Acknowledging this discriminative and corrupt budget, state-run Khabar-e Fouri website ran a report, citing 600-million-rials-salary bills.
The report quoted the head of Supreme Audit Court as saying: “Adel Azar, who sees the government’s next year increase in salaries as a generosity, has said that it is true that, in the amendments of 2021 budget proposal, a 25 percent increase in salary is expected but, if we take the amendments and margins into account, regarding the Civil Service Management Law, organizations with special law, the law gaps in the Sixth Plan Law provided for the companies, boards of directors and executive boards and assemblies, a calculation in consistence with calculation formulas in the early years suggests the existence of 600 million rials salaries. So, do not be surprised if, the next year, you faced these kind of salaries.”
The scandals about the officials and the regime-linked elements’ astronomical salaries is a subject that repeatedly cited in recent years, during the internal war of power.