LONDON: Iran’s regime is to plough billions of dollars into the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as the regime bolsters its security apparatus amid protests, soaring inflation and a collapsing economy.
The militia was allocated $3 billion in the national budget, representing a 28 percent increase on last year, The Times reported. However, some experts estimate its actual income could be as high as $17 billion.
The IRGC, which has played a role in the violent crackdown of nationwide protests, also receives revenue from illegal oil sales and is known to fund terrorist groups throughout the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.
Iran’s regular army had its budget increased by 36 percent to around $1.22 billion, and the police budget will increase by 44 percent to $1.55 billion.
The intelligence ministry has received a 52 percent increase, approximately $500 million, while prison funding has increased by 55 percent, or $230 million.
Iranian journalist Kourosh Ziabari said the “militarisation of the budget” was contrary to the needs of the Iranian people.
According to the Statistical Centre of Iran, inflation has reached more than 50 percent, the highest level in recent history. More than half of the population are now living below the poverty line.
Iranian economic expert Mardo Soghom told The Times that crippling western sanctions were forcing the government to sell cut-price oil, with China buying at $37 a barrel — around half of the current global price and leaving only $7 profit for Iran on each barrel.
Despite having the world’s second largest gas reserves after Qatar, the country lacks the technology to maximize its vast wealth. In the dead of winter, Iranians are being advised to turn down their heating.
“They need bigger platforms and huge pumps in order to extract the gas,” Soghom said.
“Even their distribution network is a source of waste, around 40 percent of energy getting lost, including electricity.
“They have had to shut down factories in order to get heat to households and last month, the government cut gas to 800 government entities to divert energy to homes because there was a snow storm.
“To improve production, the government needs about $40 billion in investments and western technology.
“This kind of technology is only available to western firms like Total and Exxon. China and Russia don’t even have this. Russia relies on BP for this kind of stuff, so with this foreign policy they [Iran] have, stuck in their animosity with the West, they have neither the money nor technology to improve like Qatar does.”