The Majles conservatives reversed many provisions of the government's fourth five-year economic development plan to prolong the centralized, state-run, semi-socialist system of government, and prevent privatization, foreign investments and other reforms, Tehran-based economist Ali Rashidi tells Radio Farda. There is a gap between economic realities and the economic vision of the conservative faction of the Islamic government, he adds.
August 29, 2004 - The Guardians Council once again rejected the fourth five-year economic development plan, despite widespread revisions made in the plan by the conservative Majles.
The fourth economic development plan (2004-2009) sets goals and priorities for funding allocation to a variety of projects. It also makes proclamations about the government's policies on such issues as women's rights, child abuse and cultural freedoms. Khatami officials said after Majles revisions, the plan is no longer workable, and would not achieve its projected growth goals.
The budget and planning organization drafted the plan based on a set of guidelines endorsed by the Supreme Leader. It was sent to the Majles last year after cabinet approval. The previous, reformist session of the Majles, approved the plan, and sent it directly to the Expediency Council for arbitration after the Guardians Council found 115 of the plan's provisions contrary to Islam and the Islamic Republic constitution.
In an unusual move, the Expediency Council sent the plan back to the Majles, after the February elections during which conservatives took over the Majles with the help of the Guardians Council's bans on more than 3,000 reformists.
"The Guardians Council's objections to the fourth plan is rooted in the Council's belief that the plan, if implemented, would damage the structure of the Islamic government," Tehran-based economic Ali Rashidi tells Radio Farda's broadcaster Fereydoun Zarnegar.
The plan drafted by reformist technocrats, sought to reform inheritance laws, and make changes in the management of state radio-tv monopoly and other institutions now under conservatives' control, such as the supreme cultural revolution council, he adds.
On economic matters, the conservative Majles is opposed to privatization and foreign capital, is opposed to eliminating or reducing the government subsidies for food and fuel, and fights against plans to reduce the government, Rashidi adds.
"The gentlemen in the Majles found the fourth development plan contrary to their view, which is statism and a semi-socialist economy," he says.
"The disagreement between the Majles and Khatami government about the fourth plan will be short-lived, because the government following Khatami's may be inline with the conservative Majles on these issues, but I believe that there is a real disagreement between the country's economic realities and the vision of the Guardians Council and the conservative Majles about the econmoy," Rashidi adds.
"How can the MPs who claim to have studied economy disregard such basic economic problems as unemployment, inflation, relative recession, and drop in productivity," Rashidi asks.
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