Mehdi Ghazanfari, the head of the National Development Fund of Iran, recently voiced a concerning sentiment: “Iranian people are worried that they will soon become the staff of neighboring countries!” This raises the crucial question: Who is responsible for turning Iran into an isolated realm devoid of opportunities?

The National Development Fund serves as a government entity akin to the National Wealth Fund. It was established as a response to the shortcomings of the failed foreign exchange reserve account, ratified in 2000 under Article 84 of the ‘Fifth Development Program’ law of the regime.

The fund’s objective was to convert a portion of the proceeds from oil and gas sales, gas condensates, and petroleum products into lasting, productive wealth and generative economic capital. Additionally, it aimed to safeguard the resources of future generations.

However, over time, this fund has regrettably found itself in a state of life support, like a currency reserve account.

In spring 2023, Mehdi Ghazanfari revealed that a mere $10 billion remained of the initial $150 billion balance of the National Development Fund. Ghazanfari disclosed that out of the previous $150 billion balance, $100 billion had been withdrawn by governments appointed by Khamenei, and $40 billion had been granted as facilities to government agents.

On January 16, 2023, Jabar Kouchakinejad, a member of the regime Parliament’s Program and Budget Commission, divulged that “in the 2022 budget, we encountered a severe deficit, of which 20% was sourced from the National Development Fund, helping to alleviate the issue.”

This suggests that the regime’s current administration spent nearly 20% of the $100 billion referenced by Ghazanfari from the National Development Fund for immediate expenses in 2022 alone.

Despite this, as acknowledged by Kouchakinejad, by the end of 2022, the government still faced a budget deficit of approximately 400 trillion tomans.

In a similar context, Alireza Saleh, another executive board member of the National Development Fund, stated at the beginning of January 2023 that “we are facing immense pressure from members of parliament and other quarters, questioning instances where borrowers from the development fund have not repaid their debts within two to four years… it’s time to rectify this.”

Likewise, Abbas Abdi, a member of the so-called reformist faction, contended that “the currency within this fund holds influence, and the political structure prevents money and power from existing autonomously; it allocates based on political, not economic, priorities.”

More recently, documents leaked by the hacktivist group ‘Ghyamsarnegouni,’ reveal that the Iranian regime has spent $50 billion over the last decade to support the Syrian dictator and prevent his downfall.

Fast-forward six months, Ghazanfari has reiterated the concerns of the Iranian people: “The citizens of Iran fear that they will soon become staff of neighboring countries!” In discussing the economic advancement of these neighboring nations, he further stated that Iran might inevitably import gas from Turkmenistan, and wheat from Saudi Arabia, and even its medical, air, and sea logistics would become dependent on neighboring countries.

Notably, these statements are made at a time when the regime is indeed importing gas from Turkmenistan.

Conversely, while the reserves of the National Development Fund are nearly depleted, the UAE, with significantly fewer natural resources than Iran, possesses $1 trillion, Saudi Arabia has $778 billion, Qatar has $475 billion, and Kuwait holds $708 billion in their savings accounts.

Ghazanfari emphasizes that if the current trajectory persists, Iran could potentially transform into an “island without opportunities” in the near future. However, he refrains from addressing the pressing question: Who bears the responsibility for turning Iran into this island without opportunities?