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Iran: Ministerial Picks Exchange Notes With Private Sector

Oct 24, 2018, 2:02 PM
News ID: 27280

EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani’s picks for the ministries of Economic Affairs and Finance, Farhad Dejpasand, and Industries, Mining and Trade, Reza Rahmani, engaged in a direct dialogue with representatives of the private sector on Tuesday.

In a meeting at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Gholamhossein Shafei, the ICCIMA chief, said the future economy minister needs to pay attention to the Private Sector-Government Dialogue Council and tap into private actors’ ideas to move the economy forward. 

“The president’s choice for the ministry of industries, mining and trade, Mr. Rahmani, was a parliamentarian for several terms and the chairman of Majlis Mining and Industry Commission. He built up good ties with economic players then. Today, the ministry is facing a series of problems. A well-informed, strong figure with years of experience would be a change in the right direction,” Shafei said. 

Kourosh Parvizian, chairman of ICCIMA’s Money and Capital Commission, said negative impacts of the government’s impulsive decisions have created a number of economic challenges in the country, according to Financial Tribune.

"It’s our hope that the future economy minister work out a solution to this problem," he said. 

“The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance’s objective functions are conflicting in nature. On the one hand, the minister has to provide the government with revenues to pay its never-ending expenditure. On the other, it has to be accountable about the country’s growth and production."

Parvizian noted that the answers on how to solve this conflicting issue and how to strike a happy medium between the two have puzzled economy ministers in the past, adding that he hopes Dejpasand would focus on the production sector, if elected. 

"Given the limited time the new minister would have in this administration, it’s better for him to focus on a handful of policies, namely fixing the taxation system, customs and banks, injecting transparency into stock market trading and establishing a participatory mechanism for the presence of the country's elites and economic operators," said Ahmad Torknejad, another member of Iran commerce chamber. 

Ebrahim Jamili, the head of Iran-India Chamber of Commerce, said he hopes to see Dejpasand wield enough authority to take decisions in favor of the private sector. 

“Mining, as the saying goes, is the toughest job on earth. In Iran, however, the most difficult job is for the government to withhold from interfering in actvities that fall within the ambit of the private sector,” Jamili said. 

“It’s obvious that you don’t have a broad mandate in enjoying the private sector’s potential," said Ahmad Pourfallah, the head of Iran-Italy Chamber of Commerce, "but the least expectation we have is that you include members from the private sector within your advisors’ council."

Pourfallah added that creating trust between taxpayers and tax authorities, as is common in advanced countries and keeping executives who have a proven record within your ministry's affiliated bodies, is necessary.

Dejpasand is an academic who served as deputy head of the Plan and Budget Organization, among other public positions. 

If confirmed, he will replace Masoud Karbasian, whom lawmakers voted to remove from office in August following a sharp decline in rial's value and the continuing deterioration of the country’s economic situation.

Trade: Unpopular Sector

Majid Reza Hariri, chairman of Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, believes that the nominee for the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade, has overlooked non-oil exports in the plan he has submitted to the parliament. “Rahmani has only focused on the industrial sector; there is no mention of imports in his plan, as if the import sector is unwanted,” he said. 

Adnan Mousapour, chairman of Iran-Qatar Chamber of Commerce, said, “All across the world, the depreciation of local currency is an opportunity to improve exports, while the former minister of industries [Mohammad Shariatmadari] just acted counter to this norm. He didn’t consult with the private sector. We wish the new minister would change course.”

Mousapour asked the nominee for Industries Ministry to announce in the parliament, at the time of his vote of confidence hearing, that he would revoke all bylaws banning exports on Nov. 4, when the final wave of US sanctions takes effect. 

To avert any shortage of essential goods, the government banned their exports. The first such ban, which became effective on Aug. 23, pertained to the export of different kinds of paper, tissue, milk powder, infant formula, tea and butter in packages weighing more than 500 grams.

Later, the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade also banned the export of scrap tires and waste rubber in a letter to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration. 

The export of all kinds of refined vegetable oils has also been banned. The relevant directive was communicated by Shariatmadari in a letter sent to the Iranian Vegetable Oil Industry Association.  

“Although small- and medium-sized enterprises account for 99% of the economic units in Iran, there is no specific plan for production yet,” said Mohammad Baqer Mojtabaei, a member of Iran Chamber of Guilds.

He appealed to Rahmani to direct special attention toward production chain as well as enterprises of the services sector, which produce 57% of the country’s gross domestic product. 

The latest reshuffle in top economic posts came, as the administration is struggling to address a host of challenges, including high inflation, unemployment and a steep decline in rial’s value. 

The deteriorating economic problems have been blamed on flawed domestic policies and the reimposition of sanctions by the United States after it decided in May to pull out of a nuclear agreement signed between Tehran and major world powers in 2015. 

Akbar Ranjbarzadeh, a member of Majlis Presiding Board, told IRNA on Sunday the parliament will discuss the nominations and vote on the ministerial nominees on Oct. 28. 

Hossein Ali Amiri, vice president for parliamentary affairs, was quoted by ISNA as saying in a news conference on Sunday that President Rouhani will attend the session to defend his nominees.