President Mohammad Khatami and Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi as well as a member of the parliament walked out of an Expediency Council session here Saturday as the arbitrative body decided to more than double the supervisory Guardians Council's budget, IRNA reported from Tehran.
The Expediency Council, whose members are appointed by the Supreme Leader, decided in its Saturday session to raise the Guardians Council's budget to more than 100 billion rials up from the 40.4 billion which the government had projected and the parliament recently approved for the next Iranian year (starting on March 21, 2003).
The Guardians Council comprises six clerics, appointed by the Supreme Leader and six jurists, proposed by the Judiciary head and voted by the parliament. It vets parliamentary bills to confirm whether they comply with the Islamic Sharia law as well as the Constitution.
The head of the budget and planning commission of the parliament, Majid Ansari, who represents Tehran in the Majlis, followed suit as Khatami and Karroubi quit the session in rage.
The Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, said the Guardians Council wanted the budget for holding the next parliament elections in February 2004.
"Two committees, comprising experts of the Expediency Council and the State Management and Planning Organization, decided that the council would face a 60-billion-rial budget deficit to hold the seventh parliamentary elections as well as for its peripheral expenses," he said
"The government and Majlis believed in today's session that the issue had to be resolved by the government and that there was no need for the Expediency Council's approval," Rezaei added
"Consequently, Mr. Khatami, Karroubi and Majid Ansari quit the session in protest but...the rest of the council members approved to raise the Guardians Council's budget by 60 billion rials for the year '82," the official said.
MP challenges Expediency Council's direct lawmaking
Head of Parliamentary Commission on National Security Mohsen Armin said that the Expediency Council's decision on Saturday to increase the budget of the Guardian Council was not in line with constitutional provision.
He said that the Guardian Council was required to refer to the government and then to the parliament for placing its request and raise the matter with the Expediency Council if the two bodies refused to accept the request.
"There is no constitutional justification for the Guardian Council to refer directly to the Expediency Council for its annual budget. It had to observe the procedure for an increased budget," he said.
Armin said that the Guardian Council had not asked for an increased budget (no matter how much) to see whether or not the parliament or the government would accept the request.
"If the Guardian Council asked for increased budget and the government or the parliament refused to approve it, then it is a matter of dispute which can be brought up at the Expediency Council. But, now, the Guardian Council has bypassed the government and the parliament in its bid to get more budget violating the constitutional procedure," he said.
"On the other hand, the Expediency Council too ignored the procedure and decided on the matter while it is not a matter of dispute," Armin said.
President Mohammad Khatami and Majlis Speaker Mehdi Karroubi and member of Parliament in charge of the parliamentary budget commission Majid Ansari walked out of the Expediency Council session in protest at both the Guardian Council and the Expediency Council which have 'ignored the ordinary procedure of lawmaking'.
The parliament already complained that the Guardian Council has not cooperated with the sixth Majlis arguing that the Guardian Council should have followed the same procedure as it did last year.
Last year, the parliament had refused to increase the budget for the Guardian Council. The issue was resolved through Expediency Council arbitration.
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