Iran’s Minister of Energy implied that ordinary Iranians should be satisfied with just one meal a day amid Iran’s economic crisis that has left most of the population in poverty.
“Iranians eat a lot and dress in extravagance,” Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said in an interview with the state-run ILNA News Agency.
Ardakania claimed that Iranians ate more, had more clothes and a higher housing budget than the average person in industrialized and developed countries, but that the level of satisfaction and happiness among Iranians was “one-hundredth of” people in developed countries.” It is not clear what “developed” countries he was citing.
Iran’s Energy Minister blamed the US imposed sanctions on the “consumerism” of the Iranian society.
“The reason we were sanctioned was our bad habits in consumption. The (US) realized that our weakness is consumption. We are a consumerist society. Why is China not being sanctioned like this? Because they are satisfied with one meal a day,” he added.
What the energy official failed to mention was that according to regime sources, 80% of Iranians lived under the line of poverty wiping out Iran’s middle class in the past few years.
Iran’s line of poverty
Considering the critical and fragile condition of the Iranian economy, Iran’s poverty line should be regarded as the absolute poverty line. This means that impoverished Iranians cannot provide their basic needs including food, hygiene, clothes, and housing. The poverty line is the lowest standard of living which endangers the lives of impoverished families. In the absolute poverty line, the health of a family reaches an alarming level.
10 million hungry Iranians
According to Hossein Raghfar, an economic affiliated with the regime, the absolute poverty line in Iran is 1.5 million tomans (120$).
Raghfar says that based on 2012 statistics, around 40% of Iran’s population lives under the line of absolute poverty. Assuming that Iran’s population was 77 million by the end of 2014, this means that more than 30 million Iranians live under the absolute poverty line.
Raghfar also mentions the “extreme poverty line”, sometimes called the “line of hunger. This means that families living under this line cannot provide their minimum food needs even with their salaries combined. According to Raghfar, more than 14% of Iranians living in rural areas are under the “extreme poverty line”.
Also, slum-dwelling has a direct link to poverty in Iran. Last winter, Alireza Mahjub, a member of the social commission of Iran’s Majlis spoke of a 17-fold increase in slum dwelling on the margins of Iran’s cities.
Iran’s economic crisis has less to do with sanctions and more to do with 40 years of clerical dictatorship coupled with state corruption and gross mismanagement.