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Iran: Executive, legislative branch officials endorse privatization plan


TEHRAN, July 5 (Mehr News Agency) -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei issued an executive order on Sunday for privatization of state companies as envisaged by Article 44 of the Constitution.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said that the executive order issued by the Leader aims to distribute the national wealth among people from all walks of life and to reduce the social gap, IRNA reported.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the president expressed appreciation for the Supreme Leader's good will in forwarding the general policies of the action plan and directing the government to cede part of the shares of state-owned enterprises to the people.

Ahmadinejad said that Ayatollah Khamenei's executive order marks a starting point for major development of the country's economy in line with fair distribution of wealth and reduction of the current chasm between socioeconomic strata of society.

In addition to discussing the general policies of the action plan on privatization envisaged by Article 44 of the Constitution, decisions were made about the procedure for the establishment of the executive headquarters in charge of the plan during the cabinet session.

The plan aims to privatize state industries, amending an article of the constitution that had banned private ownership of state institutions.

Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said here on Wednesday that the implementation of the privatization scheme will yield great economic and social benefits.

"The parliament and the Judiciary should join hands to pave the way for the implementation of the plan," he said after a ceremony honoring top students of the Judiciary College.

Khuzestan Steel Complex Managing Director Abbas Verdinejad described the initiative as a revolutionary move for Iran's industrial sector.

"At the moment, there are so many governmental rules and regulations which are a deterrent to creating a competitive economic atmosphere," Verdinejad told the Mehr News Agency on Wednesday.

The Khuzestan Steel Complex had conducted the preliminary measures over the past two years and was waiting for the Leader's order to enter the stock market, he noted.

The government plans to sell off 80 percent of its stake in a range of state-run companies in the industrial, banking, media, transportation, and mining sectors according to the decree issued by the Leader.

On Tuesday, Chairman of the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines Mohammad Nahavandian called for the private sector to establish a special headquarters to implement Article 44 of the Constitution.

In light of the fact that over the past 80 years the government share in Iran's economy has continuously grown, the plan can pave the way for the active participation of the private and cooperative sectors and the people in the economy, he said during a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Tehran Province.

Nahavandian described Ayatollah Khamenei's order as the greatest devolution in the history of the Iranian economy.

At the same meeting, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Mohammad Saidi-Kia said that effective interaction should be established between the private and public sectors to implement the scheme.

"The economic and governmental activities will not last long unless effective cooperation is established between these two sectors, complementing one another," he noted.

In order to accurately implement the Leader's privatization scheme, the government should revise both its structure and its attitudes, Pars Oil and Gas Company Managing Director Akbar Torkan told the Mehr News Agency on Wednesday.

The recent initiative can not be carried out in the oil extraction and production phases because these are directly related to the country's national interests, he added.

However, the plan can be enforced in other oil production phases such as refining, transferring, and processing, Torkan noted.

Tehran Stock Exchange Organization Chairman Ali Salehabadi told state television on Tuesday that the Leader's order has created a positive atmosphere in the bourse market.

The plan to sell 80 percent of the government's stake in a range of state-run companies to the private sector has increased confidence in the stock exchange, he added.

The Mobarakeh Steel Complex, the Isfahan Steel Complex, the Azarbaijan Steel Complex, Bank Refah Kargaran, and the Dana and Alborz insurance companies all had earlier filed for registration on the stock exchange, but, due to some legal obstacles, their names were not added to the bourse board, he explained.

Nevertheless, following the Leader's recent order, they can now join the stock exchange, he said.

Expediency Council (EC) Secretary Mohsen Rezaii told reporters at a press conference here on Wednesday that $111 billion of government assets should be allocated to the private sector over the next 10 years.

He described the Leader's initiative as one of the most significant developments in the country's economy and a turning point for the public, private, and cooperative sectors.

He said that the 20-Year Outlook Plan was the basis for the amendment to Article 44 of the Constitution, adding that preparatory studies of the Leader's recent decision were carried out by the EC Economic Committee.

All these decisions will lead to a socioeconomic revolution in Iran, Rezaii opined.

"In the next 20 years, Iran should become developed and join the club of developed countries, so that it can play an influential role in the international economic decision-making process."

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