A Knowledge-Based economy will resolve economic problems in country - National Museum of The Islamic Revolution & Holy Defense
The following is the full text of a televised speech delivered on March 21, 2022 by Imam Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, on the occasion of Nowruz.
In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad, and upon his pure household, especially the one remaining with God on earth
I congratulate you dear viewers and all those who will hear these statements. I would like to ornament my statements, on the first day of the new year and the new century, with the name and memory of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) who is the spring of hearts and freshener of time:
Greetings to you, the flag that has been raised, the source of abundant knowledge, the helper of the people, the fountain of extensive mercy and the undeniable promise. Greetings to you when you are standing, when you are sitting, when you are reading and when you are explaining. Greetings to you when you are praying and supplicating. Greetings to you when you are bowing and prostrating. Greetings be upon you when you say “There is no god but Allah” and when you say “Allah is the greatest.” Greetings be upon you when you thank God and ask for His forgiveness [spoken in Arabic].
This is the third Nowruz that I have been deprived of being at the holy shrine of Imam Reza (God’s peace and greetings be upon him) and of meeting with the enthusiastic pilgrims -including travelers and residents of Mashhad – of that great Imam. Therefore, I wish to send my greetings from afar:
God, bestow as many greetings upon Your representative – Ali ibn Musa - as Your knowledge encompasses. Bestow Your greeting upon him, one that is as permanent as Your dominions and Your authority. God, send as many greetings to Your representative – Imam Reza (greetings be upon him) – as Your knowledge encompasses. Send Your greeting to him, one that is as permanent as Your glory, Your greatness and Your magnificence [spoken in Arabic].
The combination of Nowruz with praying and spirituality
There are certain points about the Iranian Nowruz and this spring Eid which I have raised before. One point that I would like to raise today is the combination of this national Eid with dhikr, praying, dua and spirituality. In comparison with other new year celebrations in other nations, perhaps this is a unique quality of Nowruz. Of course, I do not have much information in this regard, but I think it is unlikely.
There are few peers with our Nowruz during which the people combine their national Eid with dua, dhikr, praying, spirituality and expression of love for God. Last night, at the time of the turn of the year, almost all the people from different social backgrounds – the elderly, outstanding personalities, scientists and activists in various scientific arenas such as missiles, nanotechnology, biotechnology and the like – began the turn of the new year with “O Transformer of situations and circumstances,”. They spoke to God, said prayers and cleansed their hearts with the memory of God. This is one point.
The beginning of the New Year in spring shows the Iranian thoughtfulness
Another point about Nowruz is the Iranians’ discernment and talent which shows their depth of thinking. They made spring the point for the beginning of the new year. Spring is the manifestation and bearer of hope. Spring tells us that fall and the shedding of tears will pass and freshness, renewal of nature and novelty will replace it. This is the characteristic of spring. It conveys such a message to people, the message of freshness and growth.
Of course, this hope doubled this year because it coincided with the 15th of Sha’ban, which is also the day when the greatest source of hope in the history of humanity was born. And hope is the root of all movements and achievements. I wish to grasp this opportunity to say this: those who speak, write and send messages to the people and work for them should create hope in the people as much as they can. Hope is an important factor in movement and progress.
Thankfully, God the Exalted has provided the Iranian nation with ample ground for hope. The ground for hope in our nation and our country is extensive. Let the enemies become enraged at the hopefulness of the Iranian nation. By God’s favor, hope will increase in the hearts of the people of Iran on a daily basis.
The importance of economic matters for the country
Today, I will primarily discuss economic matters. Last night as well, I delivered the New Year’s message and mentioned the slogan of the year. Today, I will explain this further. Of course, there are other matters that I will discuss, God willing, if there is any time left.
The reason why I want to discuss economic matters on the first day of the year is the importance of the issue of the economy. If the country truly achieves economic growth based on justice, all other areas of progress will be activated as well and the country will make true progress. In other words, the economy plays such a pivotal role.
Secondly, in the past decade, in the 1390s, we were faced with a multitude of economic challenges. Well, we should resolve these challenges. We should think, act and move correctly on the issue of the economy so that the means of comfort will be provided for the nation, God willing. That is why I wish to discuss economic matters.
National production is the main issue for the officials of the country
The main point in the economy is national production, which I discussed in brief [last night]. In the past three, four years, I have always highlighted production in the slogan of the year. Of course, administrations and officials carried out certain tasks in this regard within the scope of their capabilities and powers, considering global circumstances. They did whatever they could and made certain efforts, but in my opinion, in the present time, our main issue – the main issue for the executive officials of the country and for those who are involved in the management of the country – is the economy. There are certain new outlooks that are encouraging. If these popular outlooks and this presence continue in a satisfactory way, this will be encouraging and there will be more reasons to be hopeful.
The reasons behind discussing the economic matters in the public environment of the country
There is one point here and that is: my discussions and demands are primarily addressed to the officials of the country – primarily, the executive branch and to some extent, the legislative branch and even the judiciary branch and some affiliated organizations. These discussions are primarily addressed to them. Why do I discuss these matters that are related to them in the public environment and in my public speeches with the people? The reason is that it will be good for the people to become aware of economic matters and policies in the public environment, to know about my demands and to support and back up the officials who act on these recommendations. Of course, the people themselves have certain responsibilities. When I raise certain points about a knowledge-based economy, it will become clear that there are important tasks that the people themselves, in particular the youth, must carry out. Of course, this public discussion of matters may also help organizations to follow up matters in a better way.
Moving towards a knowledge-based economy will help the economy to improve and achieve growth
What I want to say today is that for the sake of improving the economic affairs of the country, we must definitely move towards a knowledge-based economy. This is the core of what I want to say today. What does a knowledge-based economy mean? It means that advanced science and technology must be able to fully play their role in all arenas of production. When I say, “all arenas of production”, this means that we must even be able to choose the kind of production that we want. This is because it is not necessary at all to produce everything. The kind of production that we want should be based on a scientific and knowledge-based outlook. This is what a knowledge-based economy means and it must be involved in all arenas of the economy.
If we pursue this policy, if we make knowledge the basis and pillar for the economy of the country and if we increase the number of knowledge-based companies – later on, I will expand on this – this will bring the country and the economy many benefits. It will reduce costs. A knowledge-based economy will reduce production costs. It will increase efficiency. Today, one of our problems is that efficiency has been reduced. A knowledge-based economy will increase the quality of products and it will make products competitive. Then, in global markets, we will be able to introduce them as competitive products. The same is true of domestic products. Inside the country too, when products have a better quality and are cheaper in price, the people will be drawn towards them even if we do not impose heavy tariffs on imports and even if imports flow into the country. Knowledge-based economy has such qualities.
The necessity to employ knowledge-based companies in the area of agriculture
I wish to cite agriculture as an example. Unfortunately, in comparison with industrial and public services sectors, there is a wider gap between the agricultural sector and knowledge-based economy. If we increase the number of knowledge-based companies in agriculture and employ knowledge in the area of agriculture, we can reap maximum benefits in improving the quality of seeds – which are very important in agricultural products - in modern irrigation, in the new ways of production and in having better productivity in terms of water and soil – as I mentioned previously [Leader’s speech on tree-planting day], water and soil are two valuable sources. We will be able to increase efficiency and improve these areas. When we manage to make these achievements and bring about a serious transformation in agriculture, this will help ensure food safety for the country. When this is done, the country will no longer face food issues and have concerns about food.
Secondly, farmers’ income will increase. It will be very good for our farmers to increase their income because they will be encouraged to continue. This will be a very valuable product. Moreover, the problem of water deficiency will be resolved. What is commonly said in our country – of course, I have certain opinions in this regard – is that we are lacking in water. Well, if our agriculture becomes knowledge-based, the problem of lack of water will be resolved too. This was an example in the area of agriculture.
The benefits of rendering different sectors knowledge-based
In all other sectors as well – whether the ones related to production or the ones related to public services – the same benefits exist. Products will be produced in larger numbers, quality will improve and the final price will be reduced. In other words, making production knowledge-based will increase the efficiency of economic activities. This is an important matter. It is a sensitive and fundamental matter.
As was mentioned before, one of the problems of the country is that efficiency has been reduced. That is, we do not reap benefits as much as we spend. This is the case in different areas. Efficiency is low in the country. A few years ago in Mashhad, in my New Year’s speech, I discussed energy consumption with our dear people, saying that we do not benefit from electricity as much as we consume it. Other countries are ahead of us in average. We are behind other countries in terms of efficiency. The same is true of other matters. If we move towards a knowledge-based economy, this important economic problem will be resolved.
Strengthening production is the only way to achieve justice-based progress and resolve the problem of poverty
Well, there are technical matters in regard to making production knowledge-based. I am not an expert. Of course, I have certain information, but it is not necessary to discuss them in this public address. These technical matters must be discussed by the officials of the country and experts in charge of such matters. They must pursue it so that the issue will be resolved.
In sum, I want to say that attaining justice-based progress in the economy and resolving the problem of poverty – if we wish to resolve poverty and financial weakness – is only possible by taking the path of strengthening production. If we strengthen production, which depends on production becoming knowledge-based, this great goal will be resolved, God willing.
The necessity to increase knowledge-based companies
I deem it necessary to raise two essential points which are related to knowledge-based companies. One point is that we do have knowledge-based companies, but they must increase in number. The second point is that we are able to do this. At present, we have a little less than 7,000 knowledge-based companies. There are around 6,600, 6,700 knowledge-based companies in the country and out of these, around 4,500 companies are production companies. The rest do public work and the like. These companies create about 300,000 direct jobs. This is a noteworthy number. Of course, the people whom I asked and who provided answers said that it is more than 300,000 jobs. They guess that they have created about 320,000 direct jobs in the year 1400. Indirect jobs are much more than this. I asked them how many more of these companies can be established in the year 1401 and they answered that 30 percent maximum. I am not satisfied. I believe that 30 percent is not a desirable percentage for the country as it cannot satisfy the needs of the country. I expect officials to increase them by 100 percent. In other words, the companies should double in number as a result of which, 300,000 direct jobs will turn into 600,000 direct jobs in the year 1401.
The necessity to increase knowledge-based companies for providing basic food products
Of course, this should not cause us to establish a company and name it a knowledge-based company while it is not really knowledge-based. No, we should really establish knowledge-based companies. Our officials should show determination and make it happen, particularly in sectors which lag behind others, such as the agricultural sector, as previously mentioned.
Knowledge-based companies working in agriculture comprise four percent of all knowledge-based companies. Only four-percent of them work in agriculture despite the fact that the agricultural sector is of such importance, as I mentioned before. Agriculture is important, so is livestock. The country must definitely achieve complete security and self-sufficiency in basic food products. We must achieve self-sufficiency in the supply of wheat and animal feed – corn, barley and the like – and the main ingredients for the production of oil. We must certainly achieve self-sufficiency in the production of corn, barley and the rest of products which are referred to as basic products. And it is possible to do so.
The country is large and there is ample ground for work. We have fertile plains. We have fertile plains in different parts of the country. A few years ago, I encouraged officials to do something in Khuzestan. It was done to some extent in Khuzestan, Ilam and Sistan. Of course, it was not done to the extent that had been promised, but it was good anyway. This can be developed. This can be done. We have fertile plains and they must be utilized for the supply of basic products.
Let me mention that once, the honorable President – Mr. Raisi – said to me that in one of his foreign trips, the officials of that country said that they would buy watermelon, tomatoes and the like, in whatever numbers we produce. Mr. Raisi said to them, “But you yourselves have good lands, water and so many agricultural resources. You have fertile lands. Why do you want to buy watermelon and tomatoes from us?” One of the officials answered, “We do not use those lands for tomatoes and watermelon, rather they are used for the production of wheat, corn and forage.” This is correct. Of course, I am not saying that we must not plant watermelon, vegetables, tomatoes and the like. All these are necessary, but we must primarily dedicate the resources that exist in the country to important and basic food products and other fundamental goods. We must be able to produce as much as possible in these areas.
The necessity to reform norms of consumption in agriculture as the most dependent sector on imports
I wish to add that our dear people must know that we consume bread wastefully. So much bread is thrown away. The people should know that our agriculture is one of the most dependent sectors on imports. One of the most dependent sectors on imports is the agricultural sector. And it is too dependent. This must be modulated. Of course, combating this dependence is very difficult because some people have very huge interests in the importation of agricultural products and therefore, they resist.
A few years ago, I asked a minister of agriculture to pursue the matter regarding rapeseed oil which is an important ingredient for the production of vegetable oil. Basically he said – of course, he explained it in detail, but this is the gist of what he said – that they do not let this happen because they say that we must import the basic products for oil. In other words, they do not let this happen. They might even use some people in the ministry and inside executive organizations to prevent the production of these inside the country. However, we must stand up against them. This is difficult, but they must do this difficult task.
So, the first issue is that knowledge-based companies are few in number considering the needs of the country and their number must increase, in particular in the area of agriculture and surely in all other areas. Officials should show determination, and showing determination means providing support. This is because knowledge-based companies belong to the people. It is the people and young individuals who establish these companies, but organizations must support them. And support means buying their products or giving them the equipment and resources that they need. Of course, in the report given to me, the ministries that have helped have been mentioned. The same is true of the ministries that have not helped. These issues must be pursued by the honorable administration and the honorable President himself. These matters are not within the scope of our work.
In any case, the number of knowledge-based companies in every sector can be a yardstick for the progress of that sector in the administration. For instance, if we see that the number of knowledge-based companies have increased in the area of oil, gas and downstream industries, we could for instance give a high score to the minister of oil and the other way around too. In my opinion, this could be a yardstick. So, the first point is that knowledge-based companies must increase in number.
The second point is that this is thankfully possible. Some people should not say that we must take the resources into account. Yes, this requires resources and the most important resource is manpower. Our hands are really open in terms of manpower. I will tell you that a high percentage of our graduates, according to the reports that I have received, are busy working in fields other than their field of knowledge. Why? They can be employed in their own fields. They must be helped and supported so that they will be able to establish knowledge-based companies. Of course, these things must be identified and pursued.
Today, we have individuals who have accomplished great things in important areas including nuclear technology, new drugs, nanotechnology, biotechnology and stem cells. These are great accomplishments. We have so many prominent individuals in these areas. Well, these geniuses can be found in other areas as well. They surely exist. The young specialists of the country are thankfully one of our greatest sources of wealth or the greatest one in the country. They are thankfully there and we can utilize their science, determination and youth so as to enrich the country.
These were discussions about knowledge-based companies and rendering production knowledge-based. The discussion about creating jobs is very important as well, as I mentioned in my New Year’s message. Creating employment will be attained through knowledge-based companies. If we can truly create and establish these companies and if we do not repeat the mistakes made in the past in this regard, employment will be boosted as well.
I mentioned the mistakes made in the past. In various administrations, we came up with projects with different names through which we decided to provide individuals with banking facilities so as to increase production. Almost all these projects were unsuccessful. All of them were unsuccessful. Splashing aroud money and taking action in an inconsiderate way will get us nowhere. This must be done in a very careful, planned and correct way. The activities of knowledge-based companies should be shaped like a chain. Of course, I had this in mind that some of the decisions made recently in decision-making centers might harm a number of small and medium-sized companies. The administration and banks should not allow this harm to be inflicted. This is a point that they must pay attention to.
Tying the economy of the country to the sanctions should be avoided
Well, I discussed the issue of the economy in detail because it is important. Last year, in the New Year’s speech, I stated that the economy of the country should not be tied to the issue of US sanctions and the like. They should not say that things will remain the same as long as the sanctions are in place. No, despite the existence of the US sanctions, it is possible to progress in the economic area.
Fortunately, the new policies that have been formulated in the country showed that this is a correct statement and they put it into practice. Even with the US sanctions in place, it is possible to boost foreign finance, as it was really boosted. It is also possible to sign regional contracts. The administration thankfully managed to do this too. It is also possible to make certain achievements on the issue of oil and some other economic matters. This has thankfully happened too despite the fact that the US sanctions are in place.
Of course, I am not saying in any way that we must not pursue the removal of the sanctions. No, I have said many times that those who are working can pursue this goal, but the basis of the issue is that we should move forward and manage the country in a way that the sanctions will not be able to inflict fundamental and important harm. Of course, they could do some damage, but they must not be able to do serious harm to the economy of the country. This falls on officials and they must carry it out, God willing. This year too, I want to offer the same recommendation: This year too, I will say that the affairs of the country must not be tied to the sanctions.
Using oil revenues to strengthen the infrastructures of the country
This year, I have an extra recommendation. It is said that the price of oil has gone up and oil revenues have increased. Now, what do we want to do with this increase in oil revenues? We can do two things: One is to say that because our revenues have increased, we can increase imports so that the people will have welfare and live a so-called comfortable life. This seems good on the face of it, but it is very bad in reality. This would be wasting the fundamental assets of the country. Another thing is to utilize our oil revenues for the infrastructure of the country and for fundamental projects. We can strengthen the pillars so that the economy becomes deep-rooted and so that we will be able to enjoy the benefits of this. These statements were about economic matters.
The legitimacy of the Iranian nation in its confrontation with arrogance
As for other issues, well, there are many issues in the world and we too are faced with them. We must think, show acumen, make decisions and act in different areas. When our nation looks at the current issues in the world, when you look at what is happening in the world, you see clearer than ever, the legitimacy and truthfulness of the Iranian nation in its confrontation with the camp of arrogance.
Our nation’s choice against arrogance was to refuse to surrender. It was resistance, preservation of independence and the intrinsic empowerment of the Islamic Republic, the nation and the country. These were national decisions and they were correct. When we look at the incidents occurring throughout the world, we see that this is the case.
Just look at the events in Afghanistan and notice how the Americans left that country. First of all, they were there for 20 years. What did they do in that oppressed Muslim country? And after that, how did they leave? They created problems for the people. They do not return the assets that belong to the Afghani nation. These are the conditions in Afghanistan and the conditions in Ukraine are no different.
The Ukrainian president, who was installed by westerners themselves, spoke in a harsh tone when addressing them. The same is true of Yemen whose oppressed and really resistant people are being bombarded every day.
And in Saudi Arabia, they behead 80 people in one day. According to the news that we received, they killed 80 youth and even teenagers. When we look at these issues, we feel that there is grave oppression in the world and that darkness has engulfed the world. The world is in the hands of bloodthirsty wolves.
The wests’ claim of being advocates of human rights
Everyone saw western racism in the Ukrainian matter. They stop a train carrying refugees in order to separate blacks from whites and they even make the blacks get off the train. They explicitly express their regrets that this time the war is not in the Middle East but rather it is in Europe. In other words, if war, slaughter and fratricide occur in the Middle East – as they call this region – this is alright, but if such things occur in Europe, then it is problematic. Such is their explicit and stark racism!
They say these things openly and nakedly. When cruelty and oppression occur in countries obedient to them, they do not voice any concern whatsoever. Despite all this cruelty, oppression and darkness, they claim to be advocating human rights! And with the claim to support human rights, they blackmail and threaten independent countries. The Iranian nation and the entire world are watching these events with open eyes. In my opinion, the present time is one of the most scandalous and outrageous periods of the contemporary era in terms of oppression, transgression and arrogance. Unfortunately, the tawagheet [plural of “taghut”, evil rulers] of the world are committing these things and people all over the world are watching them and they see what kind of people have the fate of the world in their hands.
Unity is the duty of everyone in society
Of course, our nation has updated its methods throughout all these years and it has moved forward in a serious, reasonable and planned way. Today, more than everything else, we need to work hard and show a serious attitude. More than everything else, we need solidarity, cooperation, harmony and assistance among our dear people. We need unity and unanimity. We also need the officials of the country to cooperate and show unanimity on a daily basis. They must help one another. There are some people who stand in the frontlines. Others must help and support them. The three branches of government, the Armed Forces and others must help each other in different areas. They must show unanimity and the people too must be united with the officials of the country in the true sense of the word. They must support and help them.
Selfishness is the main cause of discord and conflict among the people in society
Well, sometimes, we witness conflicts among the people, among the officials and also between the people and officials. Most of these conflicts are hollow when one looks at them. Most of them originate from illusions and in certain cases from impiety. During the 1360s, when there were many issues among officials, Imam (may God bestow paradise on him) would almost always say that those differences resulted from love of self and selfishness. This is really the case. Many of these conflicts and differences result from love of self, lack of consideration, impiety and the like. We must put these aside and the public solidarity of the Iranian nation in all good paths – whether scientific and practical paths and paths of resistance and social services – should not be undermined with these conflicts. God says, “And fall into no disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart” [The Holy Quran, 8: 46]. If we fight with one another, these things happen.
I hope that God the Exalted will make the Iranian nation happier, more successful and more blissful on a daily basis. I hope that He will bestow increasing success on diligent officials – those who are really sympathetic towards the nation, who work for the people and who seek divine satisfaction.
I hope that all you dear ones, the entire Iranian nation, will benefit from the pure prayers of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake).
I hope that God will associate the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam with His saints and that He will associate the pure souls of our dear martyrs and the outstanding martyrs of the country with the martyrs of the early Islamic era. Of course, all martyrs are outstanding. When I read the biographies and works of different martyrs, individuals whose names most people have not heard, I see that they were really outstanding individuals.
Greetings be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings