By The Free Iranian Staff
An argument over the number of Iranians living in poverty erupted at a session of the Islamic Parliament (Majles) today, with an MP stating that half of Iranians are living in poverty and officials are trying to cover up this reality with false and inaccurate statistics. The MP came by his information by using statistics from the World Bank.
The World Bank’s definition of a poverty line is dependent on the overall size of a country’s economy. The Bank considers Iran to be in the group of middle-income countries, a group of 60 countries which, besides Iran, includes China, Brazil, Turkey, and Romania. The bank set the individual poverty line for this group of countries as someone earning less than $2,000 a year, or less than $5.50 a day. Under this standard, half of Iranians, or 40 million people, are impoverished. (The average Iranian income is $3.20 per day.)
Hossein Samsami, deputy chief of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation, a regime-run charity that has been riddled with allegations of corruption and mismanagement, tried to deny this in a hearing before the Islamic Parliament, by saying Iran only has 16 million people living in poverty. Samsami then added that Iranian social services are severely underfunded, and that only 20% to 24% of the lower number of impoverished Iranians that he cited are receiving assistance.
Rasoul Khazari, an Islamic Parliamentarian, interrupted Samsami during his presentation and demanded, “Why must you lie? There are 40 million Iranians living in poverty.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for regime president Rouhani, Ali Rabi’i, stated today that 60 million Iranians, or 70% of Iranians, need food assistance to save them from being malnourished.
The Statistical Center of Iran also came out with a report stating that most Iranian families can only afford to eat meat once a year, and that all Iranians are eating less this year than they did last year, due to rising food prices, and declining wages and salaries.
Despite all these indicators, Rouhani claimed today, during a speech at the Islamic Unity Conference, that “Iran’s economic and political conditions have significantly improved compared to last year. There has been more growth each month compared to the month before.”
The World Bank, however, estimates that Iran’s economy will contract by 8.7% this year, and to continue to decline over the next two years, at least.