Edited text of Tehran Radio interview with Behzad Nabavi, minister of state for executive affairs and chief government spokesman, February 23, 1981:
What practical steps has the government taken to combat inflation?
What you mean in fact is the high cost of living. Incidentally, we have been following this very issue closely in the economic mobilization headquarters for a week now. We have discovered its roots and causes and we are trying to eliminate them.
The government has decided to freeze the prices of goods of which there are market shortages. We have reviewed 20 such commodities and in two weeks we wiil reveal the outcome of this review. In practice, the prices of these essential public commodities will be controlled by the government, The government, at the very least, will not allow any increase in the prices of these commodities and they will be provided to the public at a set price; in some cases they may be rationed. This will contribute to reducing the prices of other commodities.
Another issue concerns profiteering. The government is determined to combat it, but it cannot achieve its objective unless the public cooperates. The public should avoid purchasing any goods they consider to be exorbitant and should report those who ask exorbitant prices.
Mr. Nabavi, we had a report today Jhat bus company employees in one or two parts of the capital had stopped work. It said that the action was taken because the employees had not been given a New Year’s bonus. May we have your comment on this topic?
I have to express my regret that this has occurred in circumstances in which we have 1.5 million war refugees as a result of the war imposed by Iraq, and 500,000 Afghan immigrants living in our country, the responsibility for whom falls on the government, and in a situation in which our economic institutions and products have been paralyzed because of war. We expect cooperation, sacrifices and tolerance from the public. If they cannot give us their cooperation and tolerance, they should at least be considerate, lt seems very strange that under such circumstances our brothers are asking for a New Year’s bonus.
Our brothers should bear in mind that…one sixth of the total budget is for war expenses, expenses for construction in the war region, refugees’ needs and Red Crescent expenditures.
Under such circumstances, one should not make requests and, God forbid, one should not be influenced by those who are pursuing political aims and go on strike. Aims that could not be achieved through Saddam’s war — they could not bring down the government of the Islamic Republic — are now being pursued through the creation of internal crises, strikes and chaos in the society. Actions are being taken to achieve the aims that the United States has against our revolution. We must not be deceived and we must remain vigilantto avoid harming our revolution for the sake of a wage increase. We must not damage our entire revolution for the sake of a New Year’s allowance….
We realize that there may be some material and economic hardships. Nevertheless, we did not stage our revolution in order to receive more wages. We should know that for years to come we will be under pressure from the United States and other superpowers. We will not be able to satisfy some people’s demands. The public should remain vigilant. There are people who are provoking and encouraging strikes and chaos. These people are definitely counterrevolutionary elements…. This is precisely a US design. lt happened in Chile — strikes by this or that group in order to bring down the government.
How will the government react to these problems?
As we have already announced [passage indistinct] those whose salary is 6,000 tomans will receive only 1,000 tomans as a New Year’s allowance. We do not have any more money to pay, nor is it advisable to do so. Naturally, the United Bus Company and any other institution should pay attention and implement the government’s policy. The government is standing firm on this and we request our brothers in the United Bus Company to return to work. Should they fail to do so, we will take appropriate action. A large number of our brothers from every corner of the country contacted us by phone today and expressed their readiness to operate the buses. Nearly 500 people from Dezful have declared their willingness, as have 2,000 from other cities. There are sufficient drivers and the public is even willing to walk to work and to tolerate inconvenience. The government will not mind if civil servants arrive late for work. If necessary, it will even consider the closure of departments. The government will not give in to pressure in any way.
Source: FBIS, February 24, 1981.