Al-Monitor | Bijan Khajehpour: Iran is struggling to restart its economy in the face of COVID-19, sanctions and unchecked government misconduct, yet a recent report indicates that addressing these problems could fuel economic growth by next year.
Iran is faced with very difficult choices in its current struggle to contain the health and economic fallout from COVID-19. There’s no doubt that unemployment remains the government’s key concern, and to get people back to work, authorities are prepared to accept public health risks. In fact, to underline the dimensions of the challenge, on April 11 government spokesman Ali Rabiei stated that a long-term lockdown would leave 4 million Iranians unemployed.
That explains why some economic activities are starting up again, despite warnings that a second wave of infections could be expected.
Though returning the economy to a degree of normalcy is a top priority, the government is only one stakeholder in Iran’s complex political and economic structures, which adds to the current pandemic-related unpredictability. Other stakeholders, especially major power centers with economic interests — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the military, semi-state institutions and clerical organizations, for example — and the private sector also play important roles in reviving the economy.
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