TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Monday the government’s economic policies had fallen short and called for a new “resistance economy” to create jobs, piling pressure on the president before May elections.
Hardliners led by Khamenei have repeatedly criticised President Hassan Rouhani, particularly for the terms of a nuclear deal he reached with world powers which lifted economic sanctions and was supposed to boost the economy.
“I feel the pain of the poor and lower class people with my soul, especially because of high prices, unemployment and inequalities,” Khamenei said in his New Year’s message.
“The government has taken positive steps but they do not meet people’s expectations and mine,” he added, setting out a clear battle line before the presidential vote.
The New Year, or Nowruz, is the country’s most important national event, which involves large family gatherings, gifts for children and vacations.
Unemployment stood at 12.4 per cent in this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Center of Iran, up 1.4 per cent from the previous year.
About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million.
“I call the new year a year of resistance economy, production and employment,” Khamenei said in the pre-recorded video broadcast on state television.
Khamenei has coined the term “resistance economy” to describe measures to make Iran’s economy more self-sufficient, in contrast to Rouhani’s policy of seeking to open Iran to more international trade and investment.