TEHAN -- The spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s presiding board Nezamoddin Mousavi said on Monday that 115 officials from 73 countries will attend the inauguration of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Thursday.
The Guardian Council signed the president-elect’s credentials and submitted it to the office of Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Monday.
Ayatollah Khamenei will officially confirm Raisi as the Islamic Republic’s new president in a ceremony on Tuesday, marking the end of Hassan Rouhani’s government.
Both Ayatollah Khamenei and Raisi are scheduled to give speeches in the televised event that will formally approve his presidency.
A swearing-in ceremony will take place on Aug. 5, during which Raisi is expected to present his proposed cabinet. Afterwards, the parliament will start reviewing the proposed cabinet members for votes of confidence.
Raisi won the June 18 presidential election, earning over 62 percent of the votes.
He is inheriting a troubled economy by what critics of the outgoing administration view as years of mismanagement.
The “revolutionary” government Raisi has promised to form has a Herculean task ahead to fix an economy that suffers from a toxic mix of U.S. sanctions, the COVID-19 pandemic, and structural issues.
One inescapable economic hardship that increasingly makes everyday life more difficult for Iranians is inflation, which many Iranian economists and analysts expect to remain above 40 percent at least until later this year.
This is while the central bank had set a target of 22 percent for annual inflation for both the previous and the current Iranian calendar year, which ends in March 2022.
“Unfortunately, today we are on the brink of a severe and uncontrollable inflationary situation,” economist Masoud Nili warned in a meeting of economists with Raisi in early July, according to a government press release.
Ironically, Nili was the closest economic advisor to President Rouhani throughout his tenure before stepping down when the situation got out of hand.
According to a report by the labor ministry, food inflation crossed the “crisis” threshold in the month ending June 21, with over two-thirds of staples like meat, rice and fruits seeing an average annual price hike of at least 24 percent.
Other food essentials have exceeded even that, with prices of butter, chicken and liquid oil skyrocketing by 121 percent, 118 percent, and 89 percent in the past year, respectively.
Global food prices have spiked this year as economies scale back COVID-19 restrictions and reopen for business, triggering supply bottlenecks. But that has only exacerbated Iran’s inflationary problems that predate the pandemic.
A lightning-fast increase in money
supply by the government has been the main culprit driving the devaluation of the Iranian rial, especially as U.S. sanctions blocked the country’s access to its own currency reserves outside the country.
Amid sanctions were imposed, the cash-strapped government kept leaning on a dependent central bank to print more money.
Since 2018, when the Trump administration unilaterally abandoned Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and embarked on a maximum pressure campaign to hobble the country’s economy, former officials have promised to introduce “structural reforms” to wean the country’s overstretched budget off of oil revenues.
But even as the government was accused of shoring up its finances by encouraging ordinary Iranians to jump into a stock market bubble that burst, it still faced a massive budget deficit that is believed to reach as high as 3 quadrillion rials ($12 billion) for the current fiscal year ending March 2022.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for all workers was 9.6 percent for the calendar year that ended in March, according to the central bank, and 16.7 percent for youths aged 18 to 35.
Inflation, as well as inequality, corruption and housing were all issues that surfaced during televised presidential debates in June.
Raisi has promised to build four million homes in four years to alleviate a housing crunch, overhaul the outdated banking system, create one million jobs annually, and slash inflation by half before gradually bringing it down to single digits.
By relying on its “resistance economy” doctrine of boosting local production, Iran has largely weathered the storm of U.S. sanctions and the deadliest pandemic in the Middle East.
“Wherever you tied your work to the West, you failed, and wherever you rose and moved forward without trusting the West, you succeeded,” Ayatollah Khamenei told the outgoing administration on Thursday. “Whenever you postponed issues with agreements with the West or negotiations with the West and America and the like, you were stuck and could not progress,” the Leader said. “Because they don’t help. They are the enemy after all.”
Raisi’s “main objective will be to improve the economic situation by reinforcing the Islamic Republic’s economic relations with neighboring countries”, according to Clement Therme, a researcher at the European University Institute in Italy.
“The goal would be to build a business model that would protect Iran’s economic growth from American policies and decisions,” he told AFP.