On August 3, Ebrahim Raisi took office and formed the thirteenth government of the theocracy in Iran. During his presidential campaign, he insisted on countering corruption and parroted the claim that he would establish his cabinet based on meritocracy. Raisi had also promised to curb stellar salaries as one of his priorities.
However, in less than 100 days, corruption, nepotism, and stellar salaries have been intensified, as the state media and its proponents can no longer stay silent.
“It was not long after the establishment of the Raisi cabinet that the publication of the illegal recruitment of Gorgan MP Ramezan-Ali Sangdavini’s daughter in the Oil Ministry led to a turmoil in this ministry, which forced Oil Minister Javad Owji to cancel his relevant order,” wrote Eghtesad Online website on November 10. “Following the controversial recruitment of Gorgan MP’s daughter in the Oil Ministry, the appointment of officials’ relatives caused controversy.”
Furthermore, Moslem Salehi, MP from Fars province, challenged Raisi’s appointments. “According to surveys, more than 50 percent of appointments lack acceptable logic and explanation,” he said. “Appointing officials’ relatives in different levels of management have been justified under the excuse of being honest and trustworthy. Regrettably, dear colleagues will realize that some people have been appointed in several sensitive positions such as deputy ministers while they have no executive experience,” ICANA news agency, affiliated with the Parliament [Majlis], quoted Salehi as saying on November 7.
On the other hand, Sarpush website had revealed systematic corruption in Raisi’s government four days earlier. “As the topic of appointments has been warmed, we must remind a report, which published in some media and social media around one month ago. According to the report, only 180 appointments of deputy ministers, provincial governors, managers of government organizations, advisors, and deans of prominent universities have been done during the 13th government,” the website wrote on November 3.
“Surveying these appointments shows that the link between 84 people’s experience with their new careers and their level of responsibilities are ambiguous.”
In addition to the extended nepotism, the scandal of stellar salaries has fueled rivalries inside the factions affiliated with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his mouthpieces. “Huge receipts of some officials who benefit from favoritism and their ties have raised a wave of distrust and public hatred,” reported Aftab-e Yazd daily on November 11.
In such circumstances, officials warn each other about the huge rift between various classes of society. “I suggest President [Raisi] that if you cannot decrease the prices if you cannot increase the pensions of retirees if you cannot increase the salaries of teachers or impoverished employees of some ministries, at least decrease stellar salaries, this is not so tough,” ICANA quoted Mohammad-Reza Sabbaghian Bafghi, MP from Yazd province, as saying on November 7.
“Today, some officials receive at least 17-fold—and in some cases 21-fold— salaries according to the law, meaning more than 400-500 million rials [$1,380-1,730]. There is a horrible distance in society, [particularly between officials and] low-income classes, which shape the majority.”
In its November 6 edition, Shargh daily blamed officials for monopolizing special privileges in their favor, who have obtained significant concessions and brilliant positions. “These officials have sacrificed low-income classes and ordinary people, who do not enjoy rants, for their greed.”
On November 1, ‘Young Journalists Club’ news agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), shed light on the recruitment document of Payam Kohtari Anvar, an advisor to Oil Minister Javad Owji and the director-general of the ministry’s central office. According to the YJC, Owji had agreed with recruiting Kohtari based on a ‘modern fixed term’ contract, which brings a stellar salary of more than 320 million rials [$1,100] per month.
This revelation by an IRGC-aligned media against President Raisi discloses further details about hidden political rivalries. Indeed, various parts of power impose pressure on their rivals, attempting to gain more advantages. However, they only ignite and fuel public hatred and fury against the entire ruling system, which has been engulfed by systematic corruption.