Iran News ...


3/18/03

Iran's Tug of war: President and Parliament against Expediency and Guardians Council

EC says extra budget for GC a matter of dispute

The Expediency Council (EC) said on Tuesday that the extra budget for the Guardians Council has been a matter of dispute the parliament had referred to the body, IRNA reported from Tehran.

In reaction to the parliament's protest to the EC over direct lawmaking about the budget of the Guardians Council, it said that the parliament had enclosed the Guardians Council's request for extra budget with the letter asking for arbitration on several notes of the next fiscal year's budget plan.

Majlis Speaker Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi said that the Expediency Council exceeded the scope of its authority through direct decision making over the affair while the EC meeting had lost legitimacy in absence of the president and the Majlis speaker who walked out of the meeting in protest at the GC's bid to receive extra budget.

The statement said that the EC granted an extra rls 60 billion budget for the Guardians Council to satisfy the Constitutional body which had threatened to boycott the whole budget plan if its increased budget was not granted.

The sixth parliament complains that the Guardians Council doesn't exercise good cooperation with the main lawmaking body shelving major bills it provided to boost the standard of welfare and public services.

However, The parliament decided on Monday not to forward to the government the EC's approval about increased budget for the Guardians Council to take effect.

Deputy indicates 437-fold increase in GC's budget over 20 years

A deputy from Tehran Majid Ansari said here on Monday the budget of the Guardian Council (GC) had been increased by 437 times over a period of 20 years starting March 1982, intimating that the increase was disproportionate compared to the 61-fold rise in the budget of the Interior Ministry over the same period.

Ansari, in a letter to Majlis deputies, said the discrepancies that the GC had cited for rejecting Majlis bill on its budget as "surprising and lacking legal grounds".

He said if the GC believes that the budget that the Majlis had approved for it contradicts the contents of Article 99 of the Constitution, then a new procedure will be created in drafting the budget of the country and debating it at the Majlis.

"This procedure would essentially restrict the authority of the government and the Majlis in drafting and approving the national budget," the chairman of the Majlis Budget and Planning Commission said.

"It would eventually enable the GC to propose whatever amount for its budget regardless to limitations and due expenses in the national budget, and consider any decision to reject the proposed budget as contradictory to the Constitution."

The government had increased GC's budget for the next Iranian calendar year of 1382 (starting March 21) to 44 billion rials, which was accordingly endorsed by the Majlis.

However, the Guardian Council in its debates over the budget bill said 44 billion rials was not enough for the council, and returned the bill to the Majlis calling for increasing the budget to 160 billion rials.

The GC's request was not approved by the Majlis. Therefore, the GC and the Majlis took their dispute to the Expediency Council (EC) for final arbitration.

The EC in its Saturday meeting approved to raise the GC's budget to 104 billion rials. This accordingly drew the sharp criticism of the deputies who maintained that the councils had bypassed the legislative in approving the budget rise.

Ansari voiced concern that the EC's verification would introduce an innovation in the process in debating and approving the national budget.

He added that this innovation in the near future would provoke disputes between the three branches of the government as a result of excessive demands for greater shares from the government's limited resources.

GC rejects allegations of illegal increase in its budget

In a letter addressed to Majlis Speaker Mehdi Karroubi, the Guardian Council (GC) on Monday rejected claims made by certain Majlis deputies that the GC Sunday illegally raised its budget for the next Iranian year.

The letter called on the Majlis deputies to pay special attention to the guidelines enunciated by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei during a meeting with GC members on July 18, 2000.

During the meeting, the Supreme Leader called on the GC to establish research centers in various legal and religious studies.

Ayatollah Khamenei also impressed on the GC the need to establish an information bank and said that the government would provide the necessary budget for this purpose.

Referring to the allegations of several Majlis deputies made during an open session of Majlis on Sunday, the letter expressed regret that an MP vehemently raised objections to what he said was the GC's determination to increase its budget by 500 percent, that is, from the rls 40.3 billion projected in the budget to rls 210.5 billion.

The Expediency Council, in its session on Saturday, approved a raise in the Guardian Council's budget to more than rls 100 billion, up from the rls 40.4 billion projected in the government budget approved last month by Majlis for the next Iranian year (to start March 21, 2003).

Over 150 Majlis deputies on Sunday howled protests at the Expediency Council's move of taking on itself the authority to decide on the matter of increasing the Guardian Council's budget thereby bypassing the parliament.

In its letter, the GC argued that the arbitrative body's proposal to increase its budget was submitted to the government and Majlis in due time.

It said the GC had proposed an increase in its budget to rls 140.7 billion while the Expediency Council approved an increase of only rls 100 billion, the letter added.

Deputy says Majlis would not bend to accept GC's budget rise

Vice Chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohsen Armin here on Monday said the deputies would "under no condition" ever accept the recent verification by the Expediency Council (EC) to increase the annual budget of the Guardian Council (GC).

Armin, talking to reporters after Majlis' open session, said the EC's decision had been illegal, stressing that the Majlis would not notify the state institutions of the decision.

"The EC's decision in favor of the Guardian Council had been politically motivated, and the efforts to approve the GC's huge budget rise had all been meant to humiliate the Majlis and the government," he said.

The government had increased GC's budget for the next Iranian calendar year of 1382 (starting March 21) to 40.4 billion rials, which was accordingly endorsed by the Majlis.

However, the Guardian Council in its debates over the budget bill said 40.4 billion rials was not enough for the council, and returned the bill to the Majlis calling for increasing the budget to 160 billion rials.

The GC's request was not approved by the Majlis. Therefore, the GC and the Majlis took their dispute to the Expediency Council (EC) for final arbitration.

The EC in its Saturday meeting approved to raise the GC's budget to 100.4 billion rials. This accordingly drew the sharp criticism of the deputies who maintained that the councils had bypassed the legislative in approving the budget rise.

Armin said the EC's verification contradicts the Constitution and is not at all applicable, adding that the Majlis decision to form a committee to resolve the dispute with the council was thus "not necessary".

"If the GC requires 10.4 billion rials to carry out its constitutional duties, the Interior Ministry will then need ten times more that budget," he said.

He said the whole costs of holding the second local councils elections had amounted to only 4.5 billion rials, stressing that the GC's claim that the budget of 40.4 billion rials for holding the seventh Majlis elections in 1382 would not suffice is not justifiable.

President Mohammad Khatami, he said, had already reiterated that he would provide the shortcomings in GC's budget from the credits that have been allocated to him.

"However, it is regrettable to see that the Guardian Council kept on insisting that their request for the budget hike must be approved," Armin said.

"This was an innovation, and was merely meant to humiliate the Majlis and the government."

MP advises Majlis, EC to end controversy

An MP on Monday urged the parliament (Majlis) and Expediency Council to end up controversy as soon as possible on Guardian Council's budget increase considering looming crisis in the region.

MP and Vice-Chairman of Majlis Judicial Commission Hojatoleslam Mohammad-Reza Dowlatabadi told IRNA here on Monday that at the time being cohesion among officials of the establishment is more vital than ever.

"Under the ongoing sensitive juncture it seems like the least tension would not be to the benefit of the Islamic Republic," said Dowlatabadi.

Expediency Council (EC) in its meeting on Saturday endorsed rise in the Guardian Council's (GC) budget in the next calendar year of 1382 (to start on March 21) to more than 100 billion rials from the government-proposed sum of rls 44 billion.

The issue triggered unrest at the session as President Mohammad Khatami, Majlis Speaker Mehdi Karroubi and MP Majid Ansari walked out in protest.

Majlis is in tandem with the government proposed figure, a thorny problem for the GC which has been challenging rise in the budget, saying the government-proposed figure is not enough for it to meet the ends.

Majlis has not welcomed the GC's demand, prompting the Council to refer the case to the EC for arbitration.

EC's approval of increased budget for GC null and void: Nabavi

Majlis Vice-Speaker Behzad Nabavi said on Monday that the parliament regards the Expediency Council's approval of increased budget for the Guardian Council null and void which will not take effect.

He told reporters that the Guardian Council should have requested its budget from the parliament and when it saw that the parliament didn't accept the request, it would become a matter of dispute to be settled by the Expediency Council.

But, it set a wrong precedence and forwarded its request directly to the Expediency Council bypassing the parliament and surprisingly the EC approved the increased budget.

Nabavi said that the Expediency Council has exceeded the scope of its authority, so the parliament will not forward the EC's approval about the increased budget for the Guardian Council to the government to put into effect.

... Payvand News - 3/18/03 ... --



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