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Khamenei says manipulating numbers on economy is 'major sin'

In a meeting with officials responsible for issuing statistical reports, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned against manipulation of statistics.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a sermon during Friday prayers at Tehran University June 19, 2009. Khamenei on Friday demanded an end to street protests that have shaken the country since a disputed presidential election a week ago and said any bloodshed would be their leaders' fault.   REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN POLITICS ELECTIONS RELIGI

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Iranian officials against manipulating statistics when it comes to the economy. In attendance at the speech were members of the Hassan Rouhani administration, who have been at the center of a minor controversy over economic growth.

“Sometimes various centers state different statistics about the unemployment rate, the rate of inflation or the economic growth, and this issue causes the people to lose confidence,” Khamenei told members of the Supreme Statistics Council, the General Census of Population and Housing and the directors of the Statistical Center of Iran. The highest-ranking official present from the administration was Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht, who heads the Planning and Budget Organization.

In recent days, there have been differences between parliament and the Rouhani administration over economic growth numbers. The Research Center of Iran’s parliament stated that economic growth from the Iranian calendar year March 2015 to March 2016 is -0.4%. However, the Statistical Center of Iran put the economic growth of the country during the same time period at 1%.

The Statistical Center of Iran operates within the Management and Planning Organization of Iran, which is part of the administration. The Management and Planning Organization, which was dissolved in 2007 by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was reinstated when Rouhani took office in 2013.

Khamenei said that when the current administration questions the statistics of the previous administration, “The source of this dichotomy must be made clear. Either during the previous administration there were problems in stating statistics or during the current one. Either way, manipulation of the statistics … is a major sin.”

He added, “Unfortunately, the country is behind with respect to collecting statistics and some officials are not informed of the truth and real statistics by specific centers.”

Khamenei also focused on how to address the economic problems in the country, saying, “The real cure for the country’s problems is the resistance economy.” An economic plan first introduced by Khamenei’s office in 2014, the “resistance economy” calls for an emphasis on domestic production, a knowledge-based economy and reducing vulnerability on gas and oil exports.

In an indirect critique of Rouhani’s attempts to open up the world economy to Iran after the nuclear deal that reduced economic sanctions on the country, Khamenei said, “Even if the entire world opens up to us but our economy is not domestically focused, this equation is a failed equation.” He added, “The necessity for the realization of economic resistance is the existence of precise statistics and information on domestic production, manufacturing firms and their needs.”

On Iran’s aging population and slowing population growth, Khamenei said that during the 1990s, when Iran was experiencing a high population growth rate, policies were implemented to slow it down. However, he said follow-up studies were not done and the policy to slow population growth continued when the brakes should have been put on it or it should have been suspended. He said that even advanced countries have not found a way to increase population growth once it has slowed.

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