By Jaime Leon
Tehran, May 19 (EFE).- Iranians have once again taken to the streets to decry recent bread price spikes, the straw that broke the camel’s back after drought-linked water shortages in 2021 and fuel price hikes three years ago.
Protests have broken out in several Iranian cities since the end of last week. Attacks on bakeries and even mosques were recorded amid riots that left two people killed.
People protesting the soaring prices of bread, rice and oil shouted slogans against Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and president Ebrahim Raisi.
The rise came after the government cut back bread subsidies last month, tripling the prices of basic food items.
This is yet another drop in an economy battered by galloping inflation that reached 40% amid harsh US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is easier to say that food prices have not risen,” Sasan, the manager of a cafeteria in central Tehran, tells Efe.
At 33, Sasan still lives with his parents, whose rent has gone up by 143% just a few weeks ago.
Things are not easy in the business he runs either. Last month he was forced to raise the prices of croissants and cappuccinos by 15%.
This has resulted in a 20% drop in sales for his cafeteria, where there are eight employees.
Then came the elimination of bread subsidies, which complicated the situation even more and caused the costs of flour, oil and dairy products to increase.
“We are going to have to go up another 15%. The business is about to die,” Sasan says.
Not far away from Sasan’s cafeteria, a customer waiting outside a bakery says the situation is driving him “crazy.”
“I don’t sleep at night and I can’t swallow food. I earn 60 million rials a month (about $240) and I have two children,” he says.
Last week, Iran’s president announced that people would get 4 million rials in aid for two months.
“That money is worth nothing to us,” he says.
A bakery owner points out that they have had to raise the prices of bread due to cutbacks in the subsidies, as they pay up to five times more for flour now.
“How can we keep the prices the same?”
He says that the worst is yet to come when all the supplies of flour and other products that they bought at subsidized costs will run out and prices will rise even more.
“If this continues like this, I will join the protests,” he says.