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Economists Warn Against False Election Promises


The second presidential debate which was aired live on Iran's state-run TV on May 5, 2017.

In an open letter addressed to the people of Iran, dozens of economists have expressed their concern over what they have called “astronomical and mirage-like election promises.”

“If they [the candidates making hollow promises] win, the future of the Iranian economy will be in jeopardy,” read the letter, signed by 141 economists.

The economists, who have introduced themselves as a group of professors lecturing at the country’s universities, have stressed they are presenting their views “regardless of factional tendencies and political motivations,” reported the Khabaronline news website on May 12.

The economists say Iran’s “not so appropriate” economic conditions are the outcome of “inefficient management during most of the 1980s and early 1990s” as well as “shortsightedness of the managers and executives of the ruling system, in the process of making a significant number of fundamental decisions.”

The signatories have indicated the lack of “strong and well-established political parties with a solid platform” as the reason behind “the race for presenting populistic promises, especially during the presidential election.”

“Many of these promises were made without any professional studies, supervision or meticulous reviews and their implementation is in clear contrast with the national interests,” the economists have pointed out.

“We have witnessed more dangerous gaffes from a number of presidential candidates whose mirage-like and astronomical promises are solely based on the distribution of cash handouts,” they said.

Apparently, the signatories of the letter are referring to the conservative, or Principlist, candidates Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who have promised to significantly raise the level of subsidies, or cash handout, and create millions of jobs.

Earlier, dozens of other prominent economic and political figures had indicated that such promises, particularly increasing the subsidies, cannot be fulfilled and, in fact are not feasible and no government could afford them.

As a rule, the letter says, fulfilling such promises is beyond the authority and power vested in the government and is in contradiction with the codified national framework, including the Sixth Five-year Development Plan.

“Economy, as a science, has shown it would be impossible to eradicate poverty through cash distribution and subsidizing financial policies, in the long term,” the letter insists.

Although the economy professors emphasize the necessity of helping the poor and vulnerable strata of society by supportive policies, they also note that the only fundamental solutions for the problem of poverty are economic growth and implementing a solid plan for creating real and stable jobs.

“The national budget, which is currently in crisis under the heavy burden of trillion tomans of debt and unfinished projects, cannot bear the extra weight of higher cash handouts,” the letter continued.

In conclusion, the economists voiced regret for the fact that “presenting such undoable and astronomical promises has no political costs for their presenters and, sadly, it always re-emerges in all national and regional elections.”

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