These days, the shortage of vegetable oil and long queues for purchasing has become one of the important talking points among citizens in Iran. Iranian media report edible oil is scarce, and its prices have doubled. However, Deputy Trade Minister Yazdan Seif claims that “there is an abundance of oil in the country.”
In response, the Secretary-General of Food Wholesalers’ Union Qassem-Ali Hassani mocked Seif’s claim. “There is no [vegetable] oil with the 470,000-rial [$1.5] price listed on the product bottle for the consumer. However, there is an abundance of 1.07-million-rials [$3.5] vegetable oil,” Hassani said.
Despite the #CoronavirusOutbreak across #Iran, in Kahnuj County, Kerman Province, people have to spend several hours in long queues for some vegetable oil.
A citizen makes fun of President Hassan Rouhani, saying, "Bravo Rouhani, thank you Rouhani." pic.twitter.com/djLGbnE9wU
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 31, 2020
Markets’ Shelves Are Empty of Edible Oil
“Shelves are empty of solid and liquid [edible] oil across the Tehran’s markets. If this product exists, it is sold sometimes by up to two times the listed price on bottles,” the state-run Young Journalists Club (YJC) reported on October 28.
Speaking to the semi-official ISNA news agency, the Secretary of the Vegetable Oil Industry Association (VOIS) Amir-Houshang Birashk justified his supervisors about the edible shortage and the oil’s high prices.
“False demand versus the amount of supply, increase in bottle prices, problems over the allocation of required foreign exchange currencies to importing the palm oil, and the coronavirus outbreak are the main reasons for the shortage and high prices of vegetable oil,” Birashk said. However, he did not point out the systematic rent-seekers and the government’s mismanagement and corruption.
In an interview with ISNA, a producer underscored non-allocating the required foreign currencies for importing raw material and other necessities and the end of raw and reverse material as the main reasons for the current dilemma.
“If raw materials are not provided, we will see the closure of this unit’s production lines,” said the chief of Tabiat-e Zarandieh factory Habib Berenji. Also, a member of the Managing Board of the VOIS unveiled that the government imports this product at a price lower than the global price.
Shortage of Vegetable Oil Is Not Limited to Tehran
Apart from Tehran, this problem is also seen in other cities across the country. In Tabriz, Damghan, Zanjan, and Mashhad, citizens shape long queues for purchasing few vegetable oils. “Given the lack of trucks for loading and transferring, [vegetable oil] has been stockpiled in stores, and the production capacity has been declined,” Mehr News Agency quoted a manager of an oil-producer company in Qazvin province, west of Tehran.
“Several supermarkets do not sell more than three one-liter bottles to their consumers and two-and-half and four-liter oil bottles are found very hard in the market,” Quds Online website reported on October 25.
Additionally, Birashk declared that edible oil imports had witnessed a 50-percent decrease in the past six months. “There are 60,000 tons of edible oil in customs those have been depot due to foreign currency allocation problems,” he said.
Despite all differing remarks, controversial wisdom has it that all officials are realized of this living problem. However, they vindicate responsibility, showing that this dilemma, such as the Iranian people’s numerous troubles, ends up to the state-back mafia. All the above-mentioned managers and officials are the mafia’s infantry, who seek their interests alone.