Saturday, April 06, 2013

Holding Your Breath

As Iranians come back to start a new working year, they are uncertain about their immediate economic future. 
Iran amazes me. Today the Iranian New Year holidays were over, officially and unofficially. By the official account this year the holiday season lasted 23 days! While the official holidays is usually 5 days, the 29th of of Esfand is the anniversary of nationalizing oil and still an official holiday. In a leap year, which 1391 was, Esfand has 30 days, so the 30th of Esfand is a holiday anyway. So far you have 7 days. Then schools and universities are closed until 13th of Farvardin which fell on Tuesday this year. Parents are off because kids are off and then Friday is the weekend so only few worked on last Wednesday and Thursday. Even Donya ye Eghtesad, the progressive daily dedicated to market economy and covering business news resumed its circulation today. So literally the economy was on the hybrid mode for more than 3 weeks! Even on Facebook the discussion was mostly about Kolah e Ghermezi 92, a national TV show loved by all age groups. 

And today, well today since offices are open people are going around wishing happy new year for their bosses, colleagues, supervisors and etc! They exchange news and the updates. Those who went to see Mohammad Khatami all were asking if he would run in the upcoming presidential election. In other gatherings in business offices and stores many were wondering what would come out of this round of 5+1 negotiations.  Many are praying for an to the sanctions. Many do not know how the economy will take another year of sanctions. 

Last year inflation rate reached 31% according to Central Bank of Iran. Rial lost its value and now has three exchange rates in Iran. At least one official admitted that Iran lost 50% of its foreign revenues. This caused a shortage of medical supplies, a major import item in Iran, but did not stop unknown businessmen from importing more Porsche cars. In the same time some businessmen are still braving the international markets to exports Iranian goods and services. Iran and Egypt have started their collaboration in tourism. The economic activities continue, while the economic growth is hampered.  

For now everyone seems to be waiting to see what would happen. May be in the face of this uncertainty one could forgive a nation celebrating spring for three weeks, after all who knows what tomorrow will bring. 

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