The following is the full text of the speech delivered on March 21, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with a large gathering of pilgrims at Imam Ridha's (a.s.) holy shrine in the city of Mashhad. The meeting was held on the first day of the year 1396.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate, infallible and chosen household - those who guide the guided and who are infallible - especially the one remaining with Allah on earth.
Allah, send as many greetings to Fatima, her father, her husband and her children as Your knowledge encompasses. Allah, bestow as many blessings upon Your representative – Ali ibn Musa - as Your knowledge encompasses. Bestow Your blessing upon him, one that is as permanent as Your dominions and Your authority. Allah, send as many greetings to Your representative – Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha – as Your knowledge encompasses. Send Your greeting to him, one that is as permanent as Your glory, Your greatness and Your magnificence.
O Allah, be for Your representative, the Hujjat, son of al-Hasan, Your blessings be on him and his forefathers, in this hour and in every hour, a guardian, a protector, a leader, a helper, a proof, and a watchful eye until you make him reside on the earth, in obedience to You, and cause him to live in it for a long time.
Allah the Exalted gave us the opportunity once more and for one more year to be present among you dear brothers and sisters in the shade of the blessed shrine of Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha (greetings be upon him) and to raise the important and fundamental points about the issues of the country and the Revolution as well as expressing our unanimity and harmony with this large gathering of religious and enthusiastic people. I thank Allah the Exalted for this opportunity.
In this large and enthusiastic gathering, all the individuals who have joined together in this holy portico and around this place – including the residents of Holy Mashhad and the honorable pilgrims who have come to this province and to this city because of the attraction of this holy Imam (a.s.) – are willing and excited to listen to the heartfelt statements of the Revolution and the Islamic Republic about various matters. In the opportunity that has been presented today, I can only mention part of what is necessary to be said and I hope that my statements will benefit from divine guidance and divine satisfaction.
Dear brothers and sisters, this year is an important year for the country, both because the country needs an important economic activity – which will be thought about and attended to by the officials of the country, God willing – and because presidential and city and village councils elections are imminent. The latter is important in itself as well.
In the year 1395 – the previous year – despite the fact that the country suffered from economic problems, the people of Iran shone brightly in two areas. The first area is commitment to the revolutionary matters, to revolutionary values and to the Islamic Republic. The manifestation of this commitment was the great and enthusiastic 22nd of Bahman rallies and other rallies concerning revolutionary matters. This signaled the commitment, enthusiasm, excitement and attachment of the people of Iran for and to revolutionary issues.
The second area was the people’s commitment to matters related to faith and religion. According to a reliable report which was delivered last year about the presence of the people throughout the country in the gatherings of the holy month of Ramadan, the month of Muharram, the month of Safar and other religious practices, the enthusiasm, presence and attachment of the people to religious matters were more than ever.
Both during the events related to the Revolution and the events related to religious matters, the people showed their presence and their lofty determination more than ever. This is very important because first of all, it shows the direction of the Iranian peoples’ movement and their identity to friends and to enemies. Neither the 22nd of Bahman rallies nor the meetings in the months of Muharram and Ramadan, itikaf and the Arbaeen rally originate from a particular political orientation. These occasions are related to all the people of Iran and to all the various orientations in the country. Therefore, this shows that the movement of the people of Iran is directed towards the Revolution and religion, no matter what political orientation they have. Moreover, it showed the identity of the people of Iran to friends and to enemies. This is one point.
The second point is that it showed the people’s public unanimity and national unity to everyone. When you look at this year from the beginning to the end of it, you will see that all events speak of these two important signs: one is that they show the people’s unity on the fundamental matters of life - despite their differences of opinion on peripheral and political matters, the people share the same viewpoints when it comes to the main direction which is the direction of the Islamic Republic and the Revolution. This is the first sign. The second sign is that all those events show the people’s commitment to the Revolution, to the Islamic Republic and to matters related to religion and to faith. This displayed itself throughout the world. This has been shown to friends and to enemies. This was related to the year 1395.
Of course, there were bitter events throughout the year as well, the last one being the event related to the dear deceased firefighters who sacrificed their lives. That was a bitter event. Bitter events exist all the time. The main thing is that the people’s determination, willpower and orientation signal progress and this was thankfully the case.
I will tell you that this national need continues to exist in the same way. This year too, the people of Iran should show their national unity. They should both show and prove their commitment to the Revolution, to the Islamic Republic and to religious matters and discussions, and they should show the direction of their movement to the enemies of Iran, of the Islamic Republic and of the Iranian nation. On this occasion I have chosen today’s topic of discussion.
Today’s discussion is about two issues: one is about economic matters. Of course, by avoiding the terminology that economic experts use, I will raise those points which will be good for our dear people to know, to pay attention to and to move towards. These are points that they should demand from us officials in the area of the economy. And by Allah’s favor, I will raise certain points about the elections which is my second topic for today’s discussion.
Dear brothers and sisters, the issue of the economy is a high priority in the country. It is several years – not only this year – that this issue has been at the top of the urgent priorities of the country. The need for economic activity in the correct way and with correct planning has been visible in recent years. Of course, certain tasks have been carried out which I will refer to. For the people of Iran, today’s priority is the issue of the economy. Notice that the enemy’s priority has been the issue of the economy as well. Today, the enemies of the Islamic Republic are after economic strategies – or to put it correctly, they are after inflicting economic damage to the people of Iran – in order to be able to achieve their goals about Iran, about the Iranians and about the Islamic Republic.
The enemy’s goal is to make the people of Iran disappointed and disgusted at the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic by exerting economic pressures. He wants to create a rift between the people of Iran and the Islamic Republic and to pursue his goals in this way. Of course, I will tell you that it has been many years that our ignorant and irreligious enemy has been trying to separate the people from the Islamic Republic, but he has failed to do so. By Allah’s favor and grace, he will continue to fail from now on too.
Well, the enemy will not succeed, but we have a responsibility to bring this issue up because of its importance. We want to bring this issue up so that officials pay attention to it and so that we can create bonds of cooperation – on the issue of the economy – between the people and officials. This is because the issue of the economy and the issue of the people’s livelihood problems is an important issue. I will raise certain points about these matters. Of course, I addressed this issue briefly yesterday in my new year message to the people of Iran. Today, I will expand on it.
Imam Sajjad (peace and greetings be upon him) pleads to Allah the Exalted in a dua: “We seek refuge in you from extravagance and from destitution” [Sahifa al-Sajjadiyyah, Dua 8]. This shows the significance of the issue of the economy as Imam Sajjad (a.s.) makes this request to Allah the Exalted and seeks refuge in Him. He seeks refuge in him from extravagance and from lack of livelihood resources for people. This shows the significance of the issue of the economy. Therefore, we should discuss this area.
But before entering into the main discussion, I would like to stress two points. I would like to remind you dear ones who are present and the people who will hear these statements later on of these two points:
The first point is that in his extensive propaganda campaign, the enemy is trying to attribute the livelihood and economic problems of the country to the Islamic government and to the Islamic Republic. This is the enemy’s plan. They want to pretend that the Islamic government has not been and will not be able to resolve the economic and other fundamental problems of the Iranian nation and to untie the economic knots. They want to take advantage of the situation in order to strike the Islamic government.
This claim originates from their hatred, enmity and grudge towards the Islamic government. However, this is a completely false claim. The services that the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic have rendered to Iran and to the Iranian nation during this period of time are outstanding and extraordinary services. If we compare the conditions of the people and the country to the pre-Islamic era – the era of taghut – then it becomes clear what great and valuable services the Islamic government has presented.
Of course, there are some weaknesses, but these weaknesses are related to our management. They are related to the shortcomings and incapability of the managers who have been working in different divisions. However, the Islamic government has developed great capabilities in itself and it has built managers who have managed to carry out impressive tasks in the course of the past 30-plus years. This is while the people have been subject to the pressure of sanctions and to economic pressures from all sides during the past 30-plus years.
I would like to give some examples of these services. Of course, these are a few examples that I want to cite, otherwise the list of the services that the Islamic Republic has rendered is a much longer list. Notice that the population of the country has doubled from the beginning of the Revolution until today. It has reached approximately 80 million from 40 million, but what has happened and the tasks that have been carried out in different areas are not limited to two, three times. The figures in this regard are extraordinary and impressive.
In infrastructural areas, the tasks that have been accomplished in the country are really very great and impressive if we compare them to other countries. For example, the roads of the country have increased by six times during this time. The capacity of the country’s ports has increased by 20 times during this time. The hydroelectric dams of the country – which provide drinking and agricultural water – have increased by 30 times. The production of electricity has increased by 14 times in the country. The non-oil exports of the country have increased by 57 times. Before the Revolution – in the era of taghut – the exports of the country were almost completely confined to oil and to a few other productions which are nothing compared to oil exports. Today, non-oil exports have increased by 57 times!
The manufacture of petrochemical products has increased by 30 times and the manufacture of iron products has increased by 15 times. These are infrastructural tasks. Every country which wants to move forward and to make economic progress needs these things. These tasks have been carried out in the revolutionary era.
In the field of science and technology, the number of students has increased by 25 times from the beginning of the Revolution until today. In the beginning, the number of students of the entire country were 200,000-plus. However, today, about five million students are busy pursuing their education in the country. Scientific articles have increased by 16 times and there are many other scientific and technological activities.
In the field of social and human development, the standards are very high. In the field of public services to the people – such as providing electricity, gas, telephone and the construction of villages – the statistics are very good and promising. In the area of military activities, the statistics are extraordinary as well. A country which, before the Revolution, was completely dependent on foreign countries – on enemies like America - in terms of the military has made such eye-catching military achievements that the enemy has been dazzled. These achievements make him angry, concerned and outraged.
All these achievements stem from the skill of the Islamic government. These are tasks that the Islamic government has carried out. As I said, if I want to read this list, it will be a very long one and the achievements are much more. Of course, the Revolution does not stop at this point. The progress will not stop. There are many tasks that should be carried out. By Allah’s favor and grace, they will be accomplished. In the general policies of the Islamic Republic, it has been specified what tasks should be carried out.
Well, we have had some shortcomings which have not been few in number. I am aware of the shortcomings in the activities of the officials of the country – including this humble person himself – at a comprehensive level throughout Iran in the course of these years. There have been many shortcomings. But this is related to our management, not to the general movement of the Islamic government. Whenever we benefited from revolutionary, active and energetic management, the task moved forward. And whenever we suffered from weak, lethargic, disappointed, anti-revolutionary and motionless management, the tasks either stopped or deviated from their course. This is an issue which exists. This is a problem and shortcoming that exists.
By Allah’s favor, our managers should be more motivated and more efficient. They should work harder and by Allah’s favor and grace, this will be the case in the future. I definitely say that if management in various areas of the country is pious, revolutionary and efficient, all the problems of the country will be solved. We do not have problems which are insoluble in the country. This was one point which was raised.
The second point is that the capacities of the country are very high. Our capabilities and talents in the country are very large in number. If we express hope about the future and if we say that such and such tasks should and will be carried out, this is based on the potential capacities and capabilities of the country. Our country is considered as one of the rich countries in the world in terms of manpower and natural resources – underground, above-ground and various other resources. In terms of manpower, as I said, the existence of five million students is a great source of wealth for the country. Besides, we have around ten million academic graduates who are able to carry out various tasks. We have about 33 million youth in the country who are at the age of work – aged between 15 and 40 years old. This means that we are a young country which has the capability to work.
From the viewpoint of experts and pundits, the best age for individuals capable of working – both men and women – is between 15 and 40. The country is thankfully in a very good condition in this regard. Thirty three million of the population of the country is at this age range. These individuals are able to work and shoulder heavy loads.
We are advanced in the world in the area of underground resources as well. I once said [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on June 14, 2016 in meeting with the government officials of the country] that the population of the country is about one percent of the population of the whole world, but that almost all of our main resources are more than one percent. Some are two percent, some are three percent and some are five percent. In other words, our hands are not tied in terms of resources.
In the new year meeting that I delivered one, two years ago [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on March 21, 2014 at Imam Ridha’s (a.s.) holy shrine] I said that we are the first in the world in terms of oil and gas resources together. This means that we are the best and the richest country in the whole world in terms of oil and gas resources together. I said that we are the first in the world in this area. Recently, a report has been delivered to me saying that we are the first in the world in terms of gas resources alone as well. In other words, no country in the world has as much oil and gas as we do.
In the area of gas alone, no country in the world has as much gas – which is one of the most important sources of energy today – as we do. So, this country is a rich country. It is not without reason that our enemies – the domineering powers, America and other such countries – have pinned their greedy eyes on this country and want to bring this country under their domination. Of course, this is their eternal dream, but it will not be fulfilled and they will surely take it with them to the grave.
Well, let us enter into the discussion related to the economy. Our time is limited and I should be able to discuss all the things that I want to discuss, even if I have to be brief.
What do we want for our country and for our people? Where do we want our people and our country to go? What we want for the people is national security, national dignity, public health, public welfare, comprehensive progress, independence from global domineering powers, the cultivation of talents, and freedom and salvation from social detriments such as addiction, corruption and other such detriments. We want these things for the country. These are the things that we pursue and want for our country when it comes to material affairs. The people will find tranquility when these things are provided for them inside the country. Well, how can they be achieved? How can national dignity, national security, national power and comprehensive progress be achieved?
I will tell you that if the country does not have a strong economy, these things will not be achieved. We need a strong economy and strong production accompanied by strong management. This is what we need: a strong, reliable and self-sufficient economy through which we will not have to stretch out our hands to beg from others and through which we can choose, move forward, take action, influence the price of oil, increase the value of our national currency and raise the people’s purchasing power. Without such a strong economy, we will neither achieve permanent dignity nor permanent security. We should provide these things. This is the significance of the economy.
And of course, those things will not be achieved without national unity either. These requests will not be granted without a bond between the people and the Islamic Republic. They will not be achieved without a revolutionary culture. They will not be achieved without courageous, active and diligent officials. We need all these things and we should and we can provide them. Therefore, one of our main problems in the present time is the issue of the economy.
Well, we have brought up the economy of resistance. Our friends and active officials in the executive branch and the other branches of the country pursued this matter enthusiastically, formulated some plans and accomplished certain tasks. Well, these tasks are good, some of which I will refer to, but what is visible for us today and what we see in front of our eyes is that our economic voids are big voids. One is the issue of unemployment, particularly the unemployment of youth and particularly the unemployment of educated youth. This is a void. This is a rift. This should be made up for.
The issue of the livelihood problems of underprivileged classes is important as well. We constantly follow up information and we are informed about the people’s condition in different areas of the country. The people have livelihood problems. So, one problem is the issue of unemployment and the people’s difficult condition. And there are various cultural and social problems which are an outcome of economic problems.
As I said, the enemy is focusing on these points and he is launching his propaganda campaign on this subject. Economic experts – those who are skilled in the area of economic matters – find the main problem in recession and unemployment. They are right. One is the issue of unemployment and another is a slump in production and lack of production inside the country. Well, these things have been specified in the economy of resistance, but the economy of resistance is a system. If we can separate this system into several parts and then place more emphasis on the important parts in every time span, we will surely manage to achieve good results.
In the year 1395, good tasks were carried out. The efforts that the honorable officials have made deserve to be mentioned and appreciated. In the beginning of last year, I placed great emphasis on small and middle-sized workshops and therefore, officials decided to help small and middle-sized workshops. They allocated a budget of 15,000 billion tomans to activating about 20,000 small workshops and to helping them climb out of recession. They took action in this area. Of course, they did it late but they finally began working on it. Well, this was a good task, but in every good task, what is necessary is supervision and continuity. If sufficient supervision, attention and care are not exercised, the task will not be concluded or it will not produce good results.
I asked the officials in charge of this matter for explanation and I investigated this in the field in different ways, and then I found out that the task has moved forward, but not to the extent that they spent on it. The task has moved forward, but it has not been accomplished in the same way that was expected and in the same way that it should have been accomplished. We should act in a way that the officials’ executive measures and policies will produce the desired results.
Today, our problems in the area of some indicators and standards are too many. Some indicators are good. For example, the indicator of inflation has decreased which is good, but the indicator of unemployment has witnessed an increase. This means that more people are unemployed. These are official statistics that officials themselves have released. Another indicator is economic growth which is positive, but the indicator of investment growth is negative. This is a main and grave flaw. And in some areas – such as the area of oil – we have progressed, but in some other areas – such as the area of mines and housing – we have regressed. Official statistics do not convince one that the general movement of the country is directed towards resolving economic problems.
Now, let us leave the past aside and look at the future. In my opinion, an issue which is of a high priority and which is fundamental for the future is production: national and domestic production. My word of advice, my request, my demand and my emphasis is that we work on domestic production! Domestic production is a key concept. I am saying these things so that officials pay attention to them as these statements are being made in the presence of the people of Iran and so that public opinion puts forward the same demands and the people channel their requests towards the direction that we want in the present time.
I feel that in the present time, the basis of the work for this phase of the economy of the country is the issue of national and domestic production. This is a key heading which is followed by many subheadings. If we manage to boost domestic production, employment will be stimulated and the problem of unemployment – one of the disasters of our country in the present time is the unemployment of youth and the rate of unemployment is high – will be resolved or it will reduce.
I have written down a number of subheadings [of production]. Of course, detailed explanation is necessary for each of these ten subheadings. But I have to do without explanation and read out the list only. One of the subheadings of production is employment. One of the subheadings of production is the cultivation of talents and the innovation of youth. When the market of production is developed and boosted, the talents of youth will blossom with the result that they will bring their innovations to the arena.
The third subheading is that our valuable currency will not be consumed. The currency of the country – which is important – will not be spent on consumables. Another subheading is that the stagnant savings of the people will be activated. If production is boosted in the country, the savings that are stagnant will be circulated and they will generate sources of wealth for the country.
Another subheading is an increase in exports. If production exists, exportation will be boosted. This will generate sources of wealth for the country as well. Another advantage of this is that the competition to show off foreign brands will be undermined. Today, one of our grave social and moral plights is that we show off foreign brands to one another. We say to one another that such and such clothes, shoes, bags and products have been manufactured by such and such a well-known foreign factory. I show this off to another person and he shows it off to someone else, thus creating a competition in this area. In fact, by boosting production, we can hold this cultural disaster and problem at bay or eliminate it completely.
One of the advantages of production is the elimination or reduction of social problems and abnormalities. Unemployment leads to corruption, a delay in getting married and addiction. If unemployment disappears, these things will disappear as well. Production can be a cure for these maladies as well.
Another subheading is the generation of national enthusiasm. When production is boosted in the country, a feeling of public and national enthusiasm will be generated. This, in itself, is an important factor in the progress of the country. The mineral capacities of the country – unfortunately today, we are very backward in this regard – will be activated and we can benefit from the God-given resources that Allah the Exalted has given to these people. These are a few subheadings of production. If you think, you can find more subheadings. All these are the results and advantages of boosting production in the country.
Well, we are just uttering a word: production- national and domestic production- but there are certain requirements for production. Do we have these requirements or can we obtain them? My response is yes, we can. We have these requirements today. We have some of them potentially and we can obtain the rest. These requirements are mainly manpower, expertise, capital, and sufficient and advanced tools. These are the things that are needed for successful production in the country. I believe that in the present time, we potentially have some of these tools and resources and we can produce the rest in the country without much trouble.
As for manpower, as I said, 33 million of the population of the country is at the age of work. In other words, they are aged between 15 and 40. Of course, those who are capable of working are larger in number. Those aged between 15 and 65 – 65 is considered as the age of retirement – are 55 million, but those who are young and who can be active in the arena of work are at least 33 million. We have 10 million academic graduates. We have about five million students. These are sources of wealth for the country. Those who had information informed us that our country is one of the first countries in the world – even considering advanced and large countries – in terms of the number of engineering experts. This means that we have abundant resources in terms of manpower.
Another requirement is capital. One of the things which is necessary for production is capital. It is often said that we do not have enough capital in order to encourage producers to produce. I do not agree with this. As well as personal property – individuals themselves have personal property – the government has managed to establish the National Development Fund. I would like to give an explanation about the National Development Fund. This was a policy that was incorporated in general policies a few years ago according to which administrations were obliged to include the National Development Fund in their plans. What is the National Development Fund? The National Development Fund means that every year, some percentage of the oil revenues of the country – which we extract and sell without creating any value-added for it – should be put aside so that the dependence of the economy of the country on oil will decrease.
At first, we said that 20 percent should be put aside. Later on, we said that some percentage – three percent – should be annually added to that 20 percent. If we had added these three percents until today, this year, 36 percent of oil revenues would have been allocated to the National Development Fund. In other words, it would have been kept in the National Development Fund so that the country would be liberated from its dependence on oil. If this continues, in the course of a few years, oil will be completely separated from the economy of the country. This will be a great opportunity and a glorious victory for the country.
One of the disasters of our country and some other countries is that their economy is dependent on oil. The countries which produce oil do not have control over their oil. It is other consumers and global powers which have control over it. It is they who set its price. It is they who push up and down its price. Actually, oil producers are passive in the face of powers when it comes to oil. If an oil-rich country can separate its economy from oil, that country will definitely progress and its progress will be several times more than the past.
The National Development Fund was established to that end. Of course, in the year 1394, executive officials said that our oil revenues have decreased both because of the low volume of sales and the cheap price of oil. They urgently requested that by using Leadership powers, they do not add that 20 percent and only keep the initial 20 percent in the National Development Fund. I accepted their request and allowed the administration to only keep the initial 20 percent in the National Development Fund.
The purpose of the Fund is to give money to the private sector – domestic producers – in order to empower them to boost production. This is capital. Empowering the private sector through the National Development Fund is a vital necessity. The National Development Fund should be considered as an opportunity for the country. This opportunity can and should be at the service of production. This way, domestic producers can benefit from the National Development Fund with the correct policies and plans of administrations. Manpower is provided like that and capital is provided like this.
Another requirement is tools and instruments. Some people say that we do not have modern and advanced tools. I say in response: can the Iranian youth who managed to enrich uranium from three percent to 20 percent in a short period of time not build and develop machines in order to manufacture cars and other products? The uranium enrichment was a great task that was accomplished in the country. I have previously said in a public speech [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on November 11, 2015 in meeting with heads of universities, research and growth centers and science and technology parks] that the main problem with uranium enrichment is the process from three percent, three and a half percent to 20 percent. When a country acquires the capability to produce 20-percent uranium, it will easily be able to produce 99-percent uranium. The main problem is the process from three to twenty percent.
Our young scientists managed to resolve this part of the problem in a short period of time as we were witness to that. They managed to take this path and produce 20-percent uranium out of three percent. Our youth also managed to build such missiles and planes – despite the existence of many difficult international sanctions - that a Zionist officer and military manager said, “I am an enemy of the Iranians, but I cannot help admiring them for what they did.” Our youth accomplished a great task.
Well, can these youth - who can launch such a great scientific movement, who can build such missiles, planes and advanced weapons, who can intimidate the enemy, and who can produce 20-percent uranium out of three-percent uranium – can they not build and develop machines in order to manufacture cars and other products?
Why should they not be able to do so? Our youth are capable of doing that. Our manpower and the intelligent, active, knowledgeable, talented and educated youth of Iran are prepared for such challenges. We can carry out many tasks. We should open up the arena for youth. Youth can untie many of our difficult knots and resolve many of our problems.
Our universities are thirsty to cooperate with industrial organizations. Since a few years ago, I have been advising the cooperation between industries and universities. Of course, this has been done to some extent. In military areas, this has been done very efficiently. The same is true of some other areas. Our universities can help. This is good for universities, for the progress of science and for our industries. Therefore, we do not have any problems in terms of the resources for production. We have manpower, we can produce advanced tools and we can provide capital through the National Development Fund, the wealth of the people themselves and other such things. So, production is possible. The resources for production exist in the country.
But there are some obligations and responsibilities which all of us should undertake. Both the masses of the people, and executive, judicial and legislative officials have certain responsibilities and obligations. If they fulfill these obligations, production will be boosted. I will refer to a number of these obligations so that public opinion becomes aware of this issue and knows about it. We do not have any dead ends. We do not have any path which we cannot take and on which we cannot move forward. We can move forward. We only need to push ourselves a little bit.
One of the obligations is efficient, committed and pious management. The high-ranking officials of the country should appoint competent managers for those sectors which are related to production. They should employ enthusiastic, energetic, interested, motivated and competent managers. This is one of the obligations which is in the hands of the senior officials of the country.
Another obligation is involving the people in production. The people should become involved in production. When we announced the policies on Article 44 of the Constitution, all economic experts said that this is a revolution in political work. Well, they should pursue this. They should involve the people. In the arena of war and defense of the country – usually, the arena of war and defense of the country and of borders is the responsibility of governments, not people: it is the responsibility of armies and governments – the Islamic Republic managed to gather the people and to help them enter the arena and win the war and it did so with correct management and correct appointments.
When the people entered the arena of defending our borders – a task that befalls on governments and armies – they managed to move forward. Many of our outstanding military personalities are from the people and from Basij. They were basijis and they fought and were martyred in a basiji manner as well. Well, economic tasks are the same. Economic tasks are popular tasks. If we help the people to enter the arena of economic issues and if the people play their role in the arena of the economy and production, the task will definitely move forward. This is another obligation.
Another obligation is the issue of exports which executive officials should work on. I have received a report about executive officials saying that our major exports and financial transactions – both in the area of imports and exports – are carried out with five, six countries. This is a mistake! This is against the economy of resistance. I have placed an emphasis on this matter in the articles of the economy of resistance as well. One of the policies on the economy of resistance is this: the expansion of exports and of the sides with whom we transact. If we confine ourselves to five, six countries, this is not correct. This requires movement on the part of officials whether in the area of foreign policy or in other areas.
Another obligation is investment security. This is the responsibility of judicial officials and security forces. They should do something to ensure investment security. One of the important tasks in this regard is the stability of policies. Laws should not constantly change. This is the responsibility of the Islamic Consultative Majlis. First of all, they should lift unnecessary and troublesome laws, secondly, they should bring stability to the law in a way that they do not pass new laws everyday as this will hamper investment.
The issue of economic and investment security, which I referred to, is very important. We have sometimes neglected our duties in this regard. Imagine that some investment is made in such and such an area of the country, causing commotion among the people. The IRIB goes and promotes the investment. The people too will go and allocate their gold, houses, money and everything that they have to that investment. Later on, it becomes clear that that investment was a fraud. Well, this is against economic security. The security of production should be ensured. So, these are things that are among definite obligations for production.
One of the very important issues in the area of domestic production is the sense of responsibility of the masses of the people. I am on the people’s side and I am mentioning their requests and demands, but our dear people too should know that this is not only the responsibility of officials and that they are responsible as well. When we emphasize domestic production, domestic consumption is definitely expected as well. Why do the people pay little attention to the consumption of domestic products? Of course, certain tasks are fortunately being carried out in this regard lately. Some stores only present domestic products. Iranian consumers should attach value to the goods which are produced inside the country and they should not run after foreign names and brands. This is one of the expectations of the people.
Another expectation is that our dear youth should really pursue working and that they should avoid laziness and lack of responsibility. One of the tasks that really falls on the masses of the people is that they should have a sense of responsibility. They should feel responsible. One example of irresponsibility is in the area of exported products. We receive news in this regard: some exporters do something to make foreign customers pessimistic about our domestic products. For example, imagine that we arrange big and good oranges on the top of an orange box for export and then we put rotten and small oranges beneath the good ones! What is done in the area of our exports should be a representative and sample of Iranian righteousness and correct behavior! If we do not act like this, this is irresponsibility. When we send poor products, it is clear that our export market will be ruined. I invite the entrepreneurs of the country to enter the arena of production and work and to do activity in this area by Allah’s favor.
There are two important issues in the area of production: one is the issue of imports and another is the issue of smuggling. I have said this before. I have issued warnings before, but I would like to repeat this again. Importing those products which are manufactured in sufficient numbers inside the country should be recognized as a shar’i and legal haram! What is produced inside the country should not be imported into the country. If we take a look and see that our consumable products – ranging from food, clothing and house appliances, to the bags and shoes of some ladies and school gear such as notebooks, pens and the like – are imported from outside the country, this is a source of embarrassment! One feels embarrassed both in the face of domestic producers and in the face of those who send those goods for us from outside the country!
With the resources that exist in the country, we should not allow this path to continue like this. Imports should be prevented in the real sense of the word. There are some products which are producible inside the country but they are imported. This is while it is possible to produce them here. Although we do not have them today and although they are not produced in the present time, they are producible.
A few years ago, I heard that they are importing fodder! I said to executive officials that fodder cannot be imported because we have all these pastures, farms and the like. They said in response that fodder needs such and such a substance that is not produced inside the country. I said to them that they can produce it. Such and such an agricultural product – I have written down the name of the product and it is well-known, but I do not want to mention it – can be produced inside the country. Well, you should produce it so that you will not have to import the fodder for sheep from outside the country. So, one issue is the issue of imports which is very important.
Another issue is smuggling. The smuggling of products is very important. It is said that 15 billion dollars is smuggled! This is a minimum figure which is mentioned these days. This is a very high figure. Sometimes, it is said that the figure is 20, 25 billion dollars! These acts damage the economy of the country. Smuggling should be prevented. Of course, those who are in charge of combating smuggling should not lose the main issue! What I am saying is that they should go and combat smuggling gangs! I will tell you that smuggled products enter the country from the official entryways of the country. Of course, those who are in charge of such tasks are not treasonuous. It is negligence on their part, not treason.
They reported to me that from such and such a port – a well-known port – three to five thousand containers of smuggled products, for example, enter the country! Out of these three, five thousand containers, only 150 containers are checked! Well, why should this be the case? The rest are not checked and they enter the country! When they get into stores, it becomes clear that they are smuggled products and that they have entered the country from official entryways! Now, what enters the country from unofficial borders is a different issue. The same is true of free trade zones. These things should be prevented and we can do so.
I have said the same thing to the honorable President. I said to him that experts have said that it is possible for us to bring certain equipment which can check the containers without stopping them and while they are being moved. They should provide such equipment. If necessary, they should buy, import or produce it. We can prevent smuggling. Therefore, an important issue is smuggling.
When we speak about smuggling, this is what we mean. We do not mean trivial matters. If they go to Bazaar Reza in Mashhad to ask for such and such a seller of silver rings and say to him that he has committed smuggling or if they arrest such and such a family which earns a living through a few products it brings from this side of the border to the other side, this is not the main issue! The main issue is that great smuggling action.
Time is up and our speech became too long. I would like to conclude the issue of the economy now. Of course, there are many necessary things to be said in this regard, but I said what is necessary to be said to officials and by Allah’s favor, I will address this issue in the future as well. In my opinion, the points that I raised can be expanded, explained, analyzed and clarified. This should be done by those are in charge of such tasks.
As for the issue of elections, dear brothers and sister, elections are very important in our country. Not only presidential elections but also parliamentary and city and village councils elections are the same. Elections are one of the two pillars of religious democracy. Religious democracy stands on two pillars. One of these two pillars is the people’s votes and elections. We boast to the whole world thanks to elections. In order to strike the people of Iran and the Islamic Republic, the enemies ignore and accuse our elections. This shows that elections are every important [Audience chants “I will never surrender to humiliation”]. Pay attention! If it is necessary to chant this slogan, you should rather say, “I will never surrender to not having elections!” [Audience laughs].
Elections are very important because they are a source of national dignity, of strengthening the people of Iran and of their reputation. Of course, by Allah’s favor, I will speak more about elections in the future. What I want to say on the issue of elections today is that elections are a power-generating phenomenon. People and outstanding personalities in the world were attracted to the philosophy of religious democracy which was introduced by us. In the face of various schools of thought such as liberalism, communism, fascism and the like, our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) brought religious democracy – which is the same as the Islamic Republic – to the arena, thus attracting nations and outstanding personalities in all corners and countries in the world.
This religious democracy is reliant on elections. Therefore, the people of Iran should really shine brightly in elections. What I am saying and what is of primary importance to this humble person is the participation of the people in elections. All those people who can vote and who are legally eligible should enter the elections and create an enthusiastic environment. This is our first and foremost request.
What I want to say about elections is that the letter of the law should be observed in elections. The letter of the law should be observed! Whatever the result of national elections is, it will be valid and legal. I will not interfere in elections. I have never said and will never say to the people that they should vote for and not vote for such and such a person. I only interfere in one condition and that is when some people want to stand against the people’s votes and choice and to cancel their votes by causing interference. Anyone who decides to attack the result of the people’s votes will be confronted by me!
This has been the case in previous years and in previous elections. I acted in the same way in the years 1376, 1380, 1384, 1388 and 1392. Some of those interfering actions were in front of the eyes of the people and they became aware of them. However, they did not become aware of some other actions, but I was informed. In all those years which I mentioned, there were some individuals who wanted to stand up against the elections.
In the year 1388, this became evident. They brought their forces to the arena in that year, but in other years, they acted differently. In all those years, I stood firm and said that whatever the result of the people’s elections, it should be held valid. This is where I interfere in elections and stand up against the opponents and protesters of elections! However, I have not interfered in other affairs. The letter of the law should be observed. The people should choose and move forward.
My prediction is that by Allah’s favor, our election will be an enthusiastic election, one which will be attended by all the people. I hope that by Allah’s favor, the result of the elections – whether city and village councils elections or presidential elections – will be to the satisfaction of God and lead to the happiness and bliss of the people of Iran. I will tell you that you should hold the elections in a good way. If this happens, the people will become victorious. With good elections, the people will move forward and God willing, the enemy will not be able to do a damn thing!
Dear God, make what we said and heard serve You and Your cause. Accept it from us with Your generosity.
Dear God, associate the pure souls of our martyrs and the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) with the immaculate souls of the martyrs of the early Islamic era.
Dear God, make those pure and enlightened souls satisfied with us.
Dear God, make the holy heart of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for him) satisfied with us. Make us the soldiers of this path.
Dear God, make all of us lead a good life to the end and make martyrdom the last step in the ladder of life for this humble person and for everyone who seeks it!
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings