More than 25 years ago, the “Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) began its abuse of Iran’s resources by forcibly injecting itself into different sectors of the economy.
It slowly took over contracts and planted itself in Iran’s economy to the point that companies would not be able to work without being beholden to it, observers say.
The new fiscal year’s budget, which will be implemented effective March 21, is a prime example of how the IRGC is getting a big piece of the cake in Iran to the detriment of the people, they said.
In the 2022–23 draft budget, President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration has increased the funds allocated to the IRGC by more than 210% — a significant increase that goes far beyond the previous upward trend — while seeking only a 10% pay raise for government employees.
IRGC leaders say its economic activities — as well as its military activities — are meant to safeguard Iran against foreign aggression. But the reality is that the IRGC gets richer by dominating Iran’s economy.
This state of affairs has only gotten worse over the past decade, to the point that Iranians say, “If you don’t work for the IRGC, you do not work.”
Hamid Shahnavaz, a civil engineer whose large and once lucrative firm went bankrupt in 2020, said he has experienced this injustice firsthand.
“Although the coronavirus outbreak exacerbated problems, the main reason for our bankruptcy was the IRGC takeover,” he said. “It underbid us on every project, and it was only a matter of time before we would topple over.”
“My partners and I were hopeful for a change, although we knew it was wishful thinking,” Shahnavaz said. But over the course of three years, “things got worse for us as the IRGC undertook more and more projects”.
According to an investigative report published October 20 in Iranian daily Payam-e Ma, Tehran deputy mayor for social and cultural affairs Amin Tavakkolizadeh said “jihadi forces” — meaning the IRGC — “need to be added” to forces managing the city, and should help manage child labourers.