Bookmark and Share

Iran's Ministry of Welfare and Social Security policies still based on charity: Social welfare researcher announcing the increasing subsidy escaping rate



Figures regarding the population living "under the absolute poverty line": Fifteen million divergence in official and expert' statistics -- A social welfare researcher referring to the welfare indexes in the country said: Still a part of Iranian population lives under the extreme poverty line not having enough income even to spend on food. Iran's per capita income is about 300 dollars, whereas the rate for Kuwait is 26 thousands, UAE 25 thousands, Saudi Arabia 12.4 thousands and Amman 9.5 thousand dollars.


Saeed Madani in an interview with social correspondent of Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), asserted that optimistically the population living under the poverty line has been announced to be one million. He added: Nevertheless realistic assessments indicate that four to five million Iranians now live under the extreme poverty line.


An Iranian family needs at least 140-150 thousand Tomans per month for providing their food.


Considering an income of two dollars per day, one can see that at least 9 per cent of Iran's population live under the extreme poverty line.


Pointing out to the extreme poverty definition, which is not having enough income for providing two thousand calorie per day for each person (approved by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security), he said: In the most optimistic case 1.5 to 2 percent of the population lack enough income to provide their food. Independent experts' estimation indicates that at least five per cent of Iran's population lives under this line.


Madani added: According to international assessments, the lowest index assigned for extreme poverty line is one dollar per day, but because this rate should be proportionate to inflation rate and the economic conditions of each country, it has been suggested an index of two dollars per day for Iran. Therefore considering the index of one dollar per day, an Iranian family of five members should have 140-150 thousand Tomans income per month; with an index of two dollars per day the same family should have 300 thousand Tomans.


This researcher acknowledged: Considering the one dollar per day index, 1.2 percent and with the index of two dollars, at least nine percent of the Iranian population lives under the extreme poverty line.


Deprived families use starchy food for gaining calories


Pointing to the fact that compensating the shortage of income to maintain the minimum two thousand calories, the Iranian families are forced to chose cheaper food items, he said: For example instead of having fruits, vegetables, dairies, meat and protein, they provide their needs with starches, flour, macaroni, oil, sugarcane and sugar, which are cheaper food items.


Indicating that the low income Iranian families are among one third of the population not owning their house and living as tenants, he said: For this reasons a considerable amount of their income is spent on accommodation expenses.


Although the official statistics show 9 to10 millions of Iranians living under the absolute poverty line, experts estimate this rate to be 20 to25 millions.


Tehrani families must have 550 to 600 thousand Tomans to go above the poverty line. Indicating that according to the Constitution not only there should not be extreme poverty, but also there should not be absolute poverty, this social researcher pointed out: Official statistics shows 9 to10 million Iranians living under the absolute poverty line, but experts estimations announce this figure to be 20 to 25 millions; therefore 25 to 30 percent of the population live under the absolute poverty line. This means there are some who are not able to provide their first needs for food, cloth, education and housing.


Madani reminded: In addition to this it should be noted that these calculations are based on national averages, whereas life expenses in prosperous and non prosperous provinces are different. For example according to economic experts' estimations being above the absolute poverty line in Tehran, means a family income of 550 to 600 thousand Tomans per month, while in Sistan and Baluchestan province this figure is 200 thousands.


Enduring poverty is influenced by the economic structure of the country


Pointing out to the reasons of enduring poverty, Madani said: Enduring poverty is the result of conditions in which no equal opportunities exists for poorer people to get out of the poverty line. This is also influenced by the economic structure in which there is hardly any chance for social activities for poor people. For example poor families have hardly any access to higher educations.


Gender, housing and occupation are among the factors determining the poverty risk


This researcher acknowledged that sex is another important factor in increasing poverty risk and told ISNA: The families with a female head of household are more in danger of poverty in comparison to male head of household families. The housing conditions can be added to this factor. With one third of population not owning their house, and with considerable increase in housing prices in recent years, many living on the boundaries of the poverty line had fallen under this line. Occupation is another factor interfering in poverty. The rise in importations and a reduction in investments have caused warning levels of unemployment which puts more families in the danger of falling under the poverty line.


Ministry of Welfare and Social Security policies are in contradiction with the comprehensive welfare and social security law.


Madani believes: Obviously The Ministry of Welfare and Social Security is responsible for carrying out the comprehensive welfare and social security general law, but unfortunately this ministry's policy is in contradiction with this law in many cases. For example the comprehensive law, emphasizes on strengthening and enabling policy; the reason is to reduce the direct providing of needs and to increase the personal and collective abilities for securing the needs by poor people themselves, which means The Ministry of Welfare should lead its resources to strengthening poor people, but now welfare policies are generally to intensify and expanding the programs which was under attention of beneficial and supporting systems.


Nevertheless the escaping rate of subsidies had been increased; every year a considerable amount of the budget is spent on subsidies.


He insisted that according to comprehensive welfare and social security law, the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security is responsible to maintain a general statistical system, by actively searching for deprived social groups and helping them preserve their dignity. He believes: Making the subsidies purposeful, which is another important duty of the ministry of welfare, had been forgotten and each year considerable amount of the country's budget is spent on subsidies, whereas the subsidies escaping rate has also risen and this shows that the subsidies doesn't totally passes to poor people but on the contrary passes to the ones who don't need them at all. So The Ministry of Welfare and Social Security haven't done much in making the subsidies purposeful. Although The Ministry is responsible to participate in defining the poverty line for planning and policy making purposes, but the Minister has emphasized and insisted many times that he has no intention to announce the poverty line.


The social welfare researcher explained in addition: The Minister of Welfare says: "The law does not dictate any step even if the poverty line is defined." Regarding this remark by the minister, I must say, unfortunately The Ministry's management has shown that they ignore the constitution and the fourth economic development plan. On the other hand the comprehensive welfare and social security law has assigned duties to this ministry; according to the first paragraph of the law, one of the welfare ministry's obligations is reducing inequality, poverty as well as participation in defining the poverty line.


These days, more than any time, the need for the ministry of welfare is felt.


Madani emphasized: But this does not mean that we don't need the ministry of welfare, but on contrary, now more than any time ever, there is need for such a ministry, but only in condition that the minister carries out the comprehensive welfare and social security law seriously; this needs an understanding of the theoretical basis of this law.


Note: Original article published in Persian by ISNA.
Translated for by BMarz translators:


© Copyright 2008 (All Rights Reserved)