- Published: Tuesday, 16 June 2020
On June 15, Iran’s state-run media reported that the rice price has skyrocketed in recent weeks. “Rice, being the main dish for many Iranians, saw prices rise in the weeks following the holy month of Ramadan.
The price rise began with imported rice, mainly exported to Iran from the Indian subcontinent, and continued with domestic rice,” the Eghtesad News website wrote.
According to the rates announced by the Consumers and Producers Protection Organization [CCPO], over the past month, the price of Iranian rice has increased about 15 cents per kilogram and the price of imported rice, including Pakistani-Indian and Thai rice, increased at least 16.6 cents per kilogram. However, eyewitnesses and field observations from the markets and rice sales centers in the Iranian capital Tehran say the price hikes are far higher.
Based on its statistics, the CCPO announced that about a month ago Pakistan's Basmati rice was sold at an average price of 66 cents per kilogram. However, this type of rice was sold at an average of 70 to 85 cents per kilogram. Meanwhile, the price of a variety of Indian rice has reached an average of about 45 cents per kilogram.
It is worth noting that the price of domestic rice has increased by an average of 15 cents per kilogram prior to Iran’s harvest season. In reality, Iran’s rice productions have been hampered by the price shock after Ramadan and the increase in the average price of foreign rice.
The CCPO, as one of the authorities involved in determining and announcing the prices of essential goods, registered the prices of various types of Iranian rice from $0.85 to $1.30 per kilogram in April. However, according to the same organization, the price of each kilogram of domestic rice reached $0.90 to $1.40 per kilogram on the first day of June. Also, on June 14, the CCPO announced the price of each kilogram of various types of domestic rice at $0.92 to $1.40 per kilogram.
“Referring to some supply centers of Iranian rice in Tehran, the price of consumed domestic rice, such as Tarom and all kinds of domestic rice, is about $1.40 to $1.83 per kilogram. Also, imported rice, including highly popular brands such as Pakistani rice and Indian rice, can no longer be found in large stores,” according to a report wired by the Shahrvand news agency on June 14.
Notably, foreign rice, which has a lower price than Iranian brands, is welcomed by many in Iran’s lower and middle classes. However, each kilogram of foreign rice is sold at different prices, ranging from about $0.66 to $1.10. Of course, only where traces of these rice can still be found.
Mohammad Reza Kalami, Deputy Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, explained the increasing price of rice. “Among 100 essential items, 41 have faced a price hike between one to five percent. For instance, the price of domestic rice has risen due to the end of the harvest season and the supply of rice last year, as well as the impact of change in the foreign exchange rate of imported rice against the price of Iranian rice,” he said.
Notably, on April 14, in the 2019 budget reported provided by the Audit chief Adel Azar, more than $4.8 billion of the $32-billion budget allocated to importing essential goods went missing.
In response to remarks made by Kalami, Abbas Ghobadi, head of the Market Regulation Headquarters, acknowledged that an adopted resolution is set to deter future price hikes. “The Foreign Currency Exchange Committee is tasked to facilitate purchasing rice with the previous dollar exchange rate,” Ghobadi claimed according to the mentioned resolution.
However, despite these reactions and comments, there is still no tangible result in the prices of Iranian and foreign rice at the market.
On the other hand, rice sellers point out systematic corruption and a market based on brokerage. “This price hike should be sought in techniques of brokers, those who buy a brand of rice at the price of about $0.45 and go on to sell it to us in the market at a price of $1.15,” a rice seller said.
“Brokers also raise and lower the price of Iranian rice at dollar exchange rate … Currently, shopkeepers’ sales have decreased by more than 50 percent,” he added.
On the other hand, an official in the Agriculture Ministry attempted to cease the people’s concerns about the rising prices of rice. “About 2.5 million tons of rice, equivalent to 83 percent of the country's needs this year, will be provided for,” said Aziz Karimi, director-general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Office of Cereals and Basic Products.
However, besides comments by rice retailers and determining the role of brokers in determining the price of rice, it seems that the systematic mafia that dominates all of Iran’s industrial and agricultural sectors are depriving the Iranian people from basic necessities. In this respect, in recent months the regime has silently increased the price of bread and electricity. Previously, the administration Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani announced a gasoline price hikes off in November 2019, all under the supervision of the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
In response to the gas price hikes, hundreds of thousands of Iranian citizens flooded the streets in protests. However, the regime launched a brutal crackdown against empty-handed protesters. As a result, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), along with the state security forces, killed at least 1,500 demonstrators with snipers, heavy machine guns, armored vehicles, and helicopters. The fate of over 12,000 detainees remains still unclear.
#Iran opposition MEK:— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) December 15, 2019
At least 1,500 civilians killed by mullahs' security forces.
Death toll from provinces:
504 names published from 56 cities
All numbers subject to rise.#IranProtests pic.twitter.com/q4MGaME1ya
In this regard, the Iranian regime faces a massive budget deficit and is scrambling to compensate for it at the expense of ordinary people. Meanwhile, it is possible that public ire will ignite at any moment. Officials are frequently warning about the next round of protests. However, regime authorities have been stuck in a tough dilemma, which will definitely be the end to their detriment.
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