Ranjbarzadeh’s statement caused public hatred and anger as many people are deprived of essential supplies amid the coronavirus crisis. Notably, rising MPs’ salaries are taking place while the rest of society is caught in a tough dilemma.
On the one hand, the coronavirus threatens the health and lives of low-income classes, and on the other hand, they have nothing to stay at home and must struggle hard to make ends meet. Earlier, authorities claimed that they would help impoverished citizens. Later, it was revealed that they only give a $65 loan with 12 percent interest.
Receiving Subsidies Despite Mind-Blowing Salaries
“Many people lost their jobs due to observing social distancing. In such critical circumstances, governments and administrations should use their national reserves to help the people. Workers in Mashhad said, ‘it is better than the coronavirus kill than to die of hunger,” the state-run Armen daily wrote on April 19.
The regime increases salaries of lawmakers at the expense of citizens while at the same time it pleads for lifting economic sanctions. It is worth reminding that MPs obtained huge profit and wealth by abuse of power and rent-seeking in addition to million-toman salaries.
On April 18, the state-run Resalat daily published an article titled, “Adding Salt on the People’s Injury.” The author criticized “representative’s adoption” according to political interests and warned about “discouraging the public about the country’s officials.” However, he unintentionally revealed the scope of people’s hatred against the regime, which is possible to eradicate the fundamental rule from Iran.
“Representatives’ action revived the memory of the administration’s proposal from high-income individuals about refusal from receiving subsidies. At the time, many officials didn’t refuse despite their stellar incomes. We cannot expect citizens to cooperate in this status quo,” Resalat wrote.
Notably, the vast corruption among officials, including MPs, prompted severe wrath even among the mullahs’ advocates and supporters. For instance, the advocate of the supreme leader Ali Khamenei slammed disqualified MPs from running for the February elections along with the negligence of the Guardian Council and the Judiciary.
Dark Humor and Inappropriate Reflection in the Society
“Representatives should be placed on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus by allocating part of their salaries or practical moves. However, they only proved their profiteering by such decisions in the latest days of their tenure,” Resalat quoted government-linked expert Kamal Sajjadi as saying.
Sajjadi also warned about society’s “undesirable reactions” and said, “This news will cause undesirable reactions in the society… Also, when people have faced a crisis, these suggestions are unwise. Representatives’ move is a dark humor that will certainly result in undesirable reactions in society.”
Of course, officials are deeply concerned about the public response to their 40 years of corruption and mismanagement that left the country on the brink of collapse. As they experienced countrywide protests in November and January, different factions make efforts to ease the society’s ire by blaming their rivals.
“We should examine the mind of those who offered the plan. Furthermore, representatives currently receive more than $1,000 per month. They also gain more with calculating other profits like office expenditures, special vehicles, private drivers, bodyguards, home in the capital Tehran, domestic and foreign missions, and rewards. Therefore, their low salaries aren’t the reason for their endeavor,” said Habibollah Burbur, a government-linked expert in political affairs.
In 2016, the Jadvalyab website exposed that each MP was monthly receiving around $7,500 as salary and tens of thousands of dollars in loans. In this respect, the website had provided a chart that showed, “The regime pays more than $1,500 for hiring driver and bodyguards, over $1,500 as rent for the house, around $1,800 for expenditures of office, more than $1,000 as rent for the office, and $250 for other issues like car servicing, and cellphone charging, in addition to near-$1,500 fixed salary.
At the time, representatives enjoyed a $70,000 loan for purchasing an appropriate house and car. The parliament speaker also rewarded each represented by more than $750 each several months.
However, these warnings about the undesirable reactions only show authorities’ concerns over the eruption of public wrath against the religious fascism.
Notably, recent developments like the Majlis’ unsuccessful effort to reduce the gasoline prices in November and after the nationwide protests and not approving the 2020-2021 budget bill, which was later approved by the order of Ali Khamenei, show that the parliament has no effective role in the Iranian regime.
In this respect, the MPs only compete to grab a bigger share in political power and economic interests. They are qualified by the Khamenei-controlled Guardian Council and should announce and prove their loyalty to the supreme leader. Therefore, as the people displayed their real desire for the regime change in the recent uprising, the formal parliamentary elections in February were met with unprecedented apathy.