Following months of back-and-forth discussions and warnings by officials, the decision to eliminate Iran’s official exchange rate, which sits at 42,000 rials to every dollar, was hastily approved within minutes by the Iranian regime’s parliament as part of the budget plan put forward by the regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi for the 2022-2023 calendar year.
According to the state-run ISNA News Agency, Shiraz MP Alireza Pak Fetrat stated on March 6 that, “The people’s ever-shrinking tables would demonstrate the impact of this decision. At the same time, the government will not fulfill its obligations.”
The ISNA News Agency also confirmed that the regime’s parliament were the ones who gave the authorization for the official exchange rate to be removed ‘on the condition to that it will provide the necessary resources for compensating the difference for the import of basic goods, medicine, and medical equipment’.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said, “Hossein Noushabadi, a member of the Majlis National Security Commission, claimed on March 6 that Raisi’s government would allocate 250,000 trillion rials in the form of electronic coupons, or $9 billion based on the current exchange rate to help people and control another currency shock.”
Speaking to the state-run Mehr news agency on March 7, the Chairman of the Civil Commission of the Parliament, Mohammad Reza Rezaei Kochi stated, “The sudden removal of the official exchange rate is harmful and could result in many problems for people. Many of the essential goods are imported using this rate. Suppose the government suddenly removes or suspends the official rate. In that case, people will have a problem making a living.”
The official exchange rate was introduced in 2018 by the government of then-President Hassan Rouhani, as a means to control the fluctuating currency rate at the time. Its implementation was supposed to be used purely for the importation of essential materials for the country, such as food and medicine. However, it was soon used by regime insiders for the importation of luxury goods.
As a result of their corruption, the Rouhani government found that they did not have enough currency so started printing banknotes to make up for the shortfall, which in turn increased liquidity. With Iran’s production rate sitting extremely low at 3%, this soon resulted in rising inflation and skyrocketing prices for everyday goods.
On November 7, 2021, the Fars News Agency published an article stating that around 5.1 quadrillion rials were embezzled by the regime through imports under the exchange rate.
The NCRI said, “Raisi intends to remove the official exchange rate, so he can direct the regime’s limited resources to the export of terrorism, fuelling proxy wars and keeping the regime’s oppressive apparatus on foot. Yet, removing the official exchange would further increase the prices of essential goods, such as food items and medicine.”
Speaking to the state-run Khabar Online website on January 18, Kazem Delkhosh, a member of the Budget Consolidation Commission warned that, “Removing the official exchange rate will increase the prices of at least 25 consumer goods, affecting the prices of 600 to 700 items, exerting crushing financial hardship on the people.”
On March 6, in an interview with the Setar-e Sobh newspaper, regime MP Alireza Beigi warned of ‘dangerous consequences’ stemming from the elimination of the official exchange rate, stating, “We should be careful that other protests, like the ones in 2019, do not repeat due to the skyrocketing prices.”