- The Coronavirus crisis in Iran has posed a major challenge to the government, whose revenues had plummeted before the pandemic.
- The policy has drawn strong criticism from lawmakers and some government officials, who see it as a major risk factor in curbing Coronavirus.
- The Iranian parliament is currently closed and has virtually no role in policy-making to overcome the Coronavirus crisis.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a government economic meeting on Sunday that Iran should reopen certain sectors of the economy by Wednesday. Rouhani is calling his new policy “smart social distancing.” Iran did not implement the severe lockdown measures seen in other countries until March 27.
Speaking about the increase in unemployment and the closure of small workshops, Rouhani said, “their lives have been under pressure.” He referred to the three million “pressured families,” and low-income groups in the society and said, “we have placed a support package for them four times. The first stage has been paid and the second stage will be paid by the end of April.”
The Coronavirus crisis in Iran has posed a major challenge to the government, whose revenues had plummeted before the pandemic. Now, the government has to decide between controlling the disease and protecting the health of the people on the one hand, and restarting parts of the economy on the other.
Rouhani claimed yesterday that “the situation in some provinces is white.” With the same claim, he decided on Sunday that “low-risk businesses” would start operating on April 13. That is, two-thirds of the jobs. Before this date arrives, and practically from Saturday, the face of Iran’s cities has changed, and the movement of people and vehicles in the cities has increased the concerns of the people and some officials.
In response to Rouhani’s claim, Kianoosh Jahanpour, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, called the situation “red.” He declared that “no province is in a white state,” and that “non-compliance with the restrictions will create a problem after April 15.”
Ahmadi Moradi, a representative of Bandar Abbas, said “either [Rouhani] has been given false information or he’s doing this out of negligence. I suspect the latter to be true. The president’s decision and argument is 100 percent wrong.”
Ahmad Hussein Ghorbani, a representative of Gilan province and a member of the parliamentary health commission, said about the declining trend in the province, “the virus does not yet have any specific protocols or timelines anywhere in the world, not even in developed countries, and the World Health Organization has not announced such a plan,” he said.
But even before the start of business dates, the face of Iranian cities changed. The Iranian parliament is currently closed, and has virtually no role in policy-making to overcome the Coronavirus crisis.
Referring to the long closure of the parliament, Fatemeh Saeedi, a member of parliament, tweeted that lawmakers would call for a one-month holiday in Iran in the first session. She called the disregard for people’s health a “self-defeating mistake,” adding “the government has not been able to manage the less important issues than Coronavirus.”
Abdullah Naseri, a member of the Coordinating Council for Reformists, noted the economic woes caused by declining government revenues and rising costs on the one hand, and “society’s rightful expectation of action in line with health experts’ views” on Rouhani’s performance. Naseri called Rouhani’s actions passive and “burdensome in every way,” and said that expecting him to manage the “Coronavirus Crisis” was “essentially a false expectation” because he had long shown that he had no serious plans and that he had a “hard day.”
Abdullah Naseri has also sharply criticized Rouhani’s ministers. “If Rouhani removes the weak and incompetent ministers from their posts and employs a number of experienced people to manage Coronavirus, good decisions can be made with the same resources,” the letter quoted him as saying on Monday.