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Iran: Debate heats up over restructuring of Management and Planning Organization


TEHRAN, Oct. 17 (Mehr News Agency) -- MP Mohammad Khoshchehreh of the Majlis Majority Faction's Economic Committee said here Tuesday that the committee will study the potential consequences of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's directive on the Management and Planning Organization (MPO) next week.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad issued a directive, according to which the MPO office of every province should be affiliated to the provincial governor general's office in a bid to decentralize and expedite the development of the provinces.

"The Majlis Majority Faction's Economic Committee will thoroughly study the government's decision during its session next week," Khoshchehreh told the Mehr News Agency.

MPO Chairman Farhad Rahbar wrote a letter to Ahmadinejad on Tuesday outlining the repercussions of the order.

Rahbar has called on the president to delay implementation of the decision, an MPO official told MNA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Rahbar has also asked Ahmadinejad to put the plan on the back burner until the expert studies are completed, the official said.

MNA also sought the views of two MPs and one economist on Tuesday.

MP Ali Mazruii called the move a hasty decision, saying that the merger of the MPO would undermine the role of the organization, which is actually the government's "brain".

This is dangerous for the country because it would limit the government to the role of implementer of development projects, which is not likely to succeed, he added.

"I do not know according to what expert studies and investigations this decision has been made," he bristled.

Ahmadinejad thinks that the problem of budget constraints is related to the MPO and its bureaucracy, whereas it is related to constraints on government revenues, the lawmaker noted.

The short-term or long-term implementation of the plan would upset the modicum of order which has been established, with many hardships and much trial and error, imposing a great cost on the country, Mazruii said.

Economist Fariborz Raiis-Dana said that the decision dealt the coup de grace to the structure of the national management organization.

Iran has fifty years of experience in scientific planning, but the efficacy of these efforts has been in decline in recent years, and the government's plan will exacerbate this process, he added.

The administration wants financial resources to be controlled by the government itself and not by a democratic supervisory body, he noted.

"Through this plan, the interior minister will have more power than the president, and one cannot manage the country and organize the economy in this way," he said.

MP Esmaeil Gramimoqaddam said that the president's directive is illegal and the parliament opposes his decision.

"The president is not authorized to order an alteration or merger of an organization. This is the parliament's job," he added.

The MPO has a supervisory role in addition to its responsibility to allocate the budget, tasks which the MPO will not be able to perform in its proposed form, he opined.

However, Interior Minister Mostafa Purmohamadi called the plan a "great step" that is in line with the government's decentralization policy.

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