Nassiri told IRNA that according to the proposal embodied in the Fourth Five-Year Development Plan, two platforms in Chabahar will be included in the proposed move.
"However, we believe that the city`s surroundings should also be included to enable the local residents to have access to the special facilities of the zone," he added.
However, he said that since the 45-billion-rial general budget of the city will be cut back if Chabahar and its surroundings is declared a free trade zone, the city can only be so declared once appropriate ways are found to replace the reduction in budget allocation.
"In addition to the three cities of Khorramshahr, Abadan and Julfa, surveys have been conducted showing the positive advantages of declaring Bushehr, Marivan and Shahid Raja`ie as free trade zones in the future. Bushehr port city in southern Iran has priority over the others," he added.
Comparing Chabahar`s current security situation to that 12 years ago, he added that security indices of the city are now at a much higher level than that of other provincial cities.
However, he admitted that "despite the drastic changes in the people`s living conditions in Chabahar, it is not yet satisfactory."
He said that basic living and economic conditions in Sistan-Baluchestan province need to be improved and, to achieve this end, improved communication between the two cities of Chabahar and Zabul was a must.
Turning to the fact that trading in goods through the area could be as profitable as oil, he noted that in the domain of higher education, particularly in information and communications technology (ICT), one million job opportunities could be created.
Concerning the need to attract foreign investment to the free zone, he said that according to statistics covering the period 1993 to 2001, every unit of government investment was matched by three from the private sector and foreign enterprises in the country`s free trade zones.
"Despite all the difficulties, the ratio being one to nine in 2002 improved and stood at one to twelve in 2003," he noted.
Putting the foreign investment from 1993 to 2001 at about 1.29 billion dollars, he said that the figure dropped to one billion dollars in the following year.
"In view of the major focus in the Fourth Development Plan being on economic projects, the (above-stated) figure is expected to hike remarkably," he added.
Nassiri noted that one of the key reasons for the low rate of investment in the Chabahar area by the private sector and foreign investors compared to investments in Persian Gulf countries is the lack of the green light.
"Absence of security is another factor for the low rate of investment in the area by foreigners and the Iranian private sector.
"Unfortunately, the high potential of Chabahar area, which is located at the most eastern point in the country, has neither been properly identified nor exploited," he concluded.
... Payvand News - 5/1/04 ... --