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Khamenei Adviser Questions Rouhani's Economic Growth Figures

Iran -- Yahya Rahim Safavi, an Iranian military commander, former chief commander of the Sepah and top adviser of ayatollah Ali Khamenei, leader of Islamic Republic of Iran, Undated, Iran.

A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that figures the Rouhani administration has released about economic growth and employment do not reflect the truth.

According to conservative-controlled Mehr news agency, Yahya Rahim Safavi has said on Friday February 8: “The people look at what they have on their plate and find out that the economic growth and job creation claimed by the administration have not taken place.”

The statement made by Rahim Safavi, former IRGC commander in chief who is currently Khamenei’s senior adviser, could indicate Khamenei’s decision to divert public anger about economic hardship that triggered recent protests at Rouhani.

The massive protests against economic failure and social injustice that overwhelmed Iran in early 2018 started partly due to the sense of public anger and frustration fuelled by hardliners close to Khamenei to undermine the Rouhani administration.

On the same note, Rahim Safavi said: “The administration says it has created so many jobs, while every Iranian family is host to one or two highly educated unemployed job seekers.”

Khamenei himself had also questioned the integrity of the Rouhani administration’s statistics.

He said at a meeting with the members of Assembly of Experts in August 2017 that statistics offered by the Rouhani administration were questionable and were not likely to have any impact on the situation of unemployment in the short run or even in the near future.

The remarks by Khamenei triggered harsher, criticism of Rouhani by hardline Friday prayers leaders in various cities.

On February 6, Rouhani’s Economy Minister Massoud Karbasian had put Iran’s economic growth at six percent, not taking into account the country’s oil revenue.

In the meantime, the World Bank has estimated Iran’s gross domestic product prospect for 2018, 2019 and 2020 at 4.3 percent.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated Iran’s economic growth for the current year at 4.2 percent.

This comes while in an interview with Radio Farda; Iranian economist Mehrdad Emadi has forecast Iran’s economic growth this year to be under four percent.

Another economist, Fereydoun Khavand, earlier told Radio Farda that Iran’s economic growth is a result of producing and exporting oil and this would not necessarily lead to an improvement in the job market.

Labor Minister Ali Rabi’i has recently said that Iran’s economy is not capable of tackling the country’s rising unemployment, which has been officially put at 11.7 percent in the first half of the Iranian year that started in March 2017.

Real unemployment is believed to be much higher, due to the methodology Iran uses to classify who is employed.