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Iranian oil official decries bloated government, interference in economy

Mashhad, Razavi Khorassan prov, June 9, IRNA-Deputy oil minister for international affairs said in Mashhad on wednesday that in Iran the state has taken the people's place, meddling in various affairs including executive, administration and sovereignty.

"It (government) has wrested opportunities from the people," he underlined.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Challenges and Opportunities of the future Government' Mohammad Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian said non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been unable to take root in the society.

As long as the government in our society is at the helm it tend to write laws to its favor, "but, if it occupies an intermediary position, then it draws upon the private sector expertise," Nejad Hosseinian said.

The future government's tasks are policy making, transparency, nd opening up of the working opportunities for the private sector.

"Currently around 70 percent of the national economy is in the ands of the government and over 530 state-affiliated companies's budgets are earmarked from the national budget," he added.

The private sector is not willing to commit capital investment because of its perception of the government as its competition. "Due o our skewed sense we have channeled valuable capital to speculative and non-productive affairs." The new and ever changing new international economic situations mandates that the government revaluates and revises its operations in the three ares: dolling out subsides on some products, management of state-affiliated companies and prevention of investments in some important industrial sectors due its overwhelming presence, Nejad Hosseinian stated.

After 16 years and with many slogans on privatization and downsizing of the bloated government, the policy has not only been carried out, but the government has also grown in seize, the official said.

"This is due to indecisiveness and unrealistic outlook on the part of the officials." Another important characteristics is the coherence and uniformity of the government. "In the past some policies have only not been complementary they have been contradictory to one another," the deputy oil minister added.

Implementing large developmental projects by the government merely leads to its bloated seize. The government should let the private sector handle such tasks as highway construction and other infrastructure projects, Nejad Hosseinian added.

The government should also create an atmosphere, equitably dividing the opportunities of the society so that each individual, while active in the society, could compete with others according to his capabilities.

Elaborating on sound privatization policies, he added that initially the government-affiliated companies and those organs which run those companies should be separated from the government ministries.

In April, Deputy head of Iran Privatization Organization (IPO) said here Saturday that the privatization drive has been satisfactory during last Iranian year (ended March 20).

Mir Ali Ashraf Pour-Hosseini added that although the IPO performance has been acceptable, the total income raised from ceding state-affiliated organs has not met expectations with only 30 percent of the estimated revenues outlined in the budget realized.

When investors feel insure they cause the market to contract causing long lines of sellers and drop in share prices such that happened in the winter, he added.

"Of course the reverse is also true," Pour-Hosseini added.

He said it is essential for the privatization trend that article 44 of the constitution which covers all large financial, investments and industrial institutions of to be fully delineated.

"The privatization of banks and insurance companies will instill security in investors and this step has to be taken in conjunction with privatization of other organs if not earlier," the official underlined.

In November, the Expediency Council continued debate on privatization in connection with Article 44 of the Constitution.

The top decision making body passed two notes of a general plan to amend the constitutional articles which advocated state monopoly over national economy.

One note of the decision says that the privatization drive should not create obstacles to the national sovereignty of the government.

The second note made it clear that implementation of the privatization program should be balanced and maximum care should be taken to prevent taking shape of another monopoly by the private sector.

The debate took place in continuation of a policy making process aiming to pave the way for carrying out the 20-year economic, social and cultural development plan (2005-2025).

... Payvand News - 6/9/05 ... --

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