Khabar Online interview with Behrouz Alishiri, the head of Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran
The latest figures Iranian officials have given on absorbing foreign investment to the country and their strange and great objective for attracting more investment in the current year were the basic issues discussed during an interview with Mr. Alishiri who is also Iran's Deputy Minister of Economy and Financial Affairs.
The waves of sanction imposed by the West on the Islamic Republic of Iran have partly discouraged foreign investors. The West powers have planned these sanctions on the pretext that the Islamic Republic's nuclear program is meant for producing weapons. Tehran firmly rejects the allegation stressing that the program is aimed at peaceful purposes including producing electricity.
However, in the last three years Iran has succeeded in absorbing 3 billion dollars foreign investment and is to meet the goal of raising it by 100 percent receiving almost 6 billion dollars. The head of Organization for Investment notes that 67 percent or about two thirds of the 3 billion dollars has been secured by Iranian expatriates living in foreign countries. Even by forming coalitions, they have attracted foreign investors to the country.
But Alishiri does not believe in the recorded figures. Instead he remarks that the level of foreign investment in Iran is more than what has been announced. For this reason he criticizes the lack of a data bank to provide real statistics on investments received by Iran from outside.
"According to an official order given by Central Bank of Iran (CBI) the ground is gradually prepared for establishing a wide-ranging and comprehensive data bank for investment in the country," Alishiri announced.
On the other hand, he stresses on the more active participation of the private sector in the country and asserts: "We are long distance away from creating a very transparent, competitive and easy flowing environment for our private sector to operate and it should break free from the limitation of "the small back room".
How is the current development of absorbing foreign investment to Iran?
In 2009 we had set a new record in encouraging foreign investment to the country. With above 3 billion dollars we had reached to an absolutely fine status in international level. That year, in terms of the growth rate in attracting foreign investment at international level, we stood at sixth place. With regard to the situation, our strategy in 2010 was to establish the situation and keep the record of the last year which was almost 3 billion dollars.
Is the rate of foreign investment inflow to Iran calculated?
Our primary figures show that we have achieved our goals. Just as currently we are at your service, the sum of foreign investment in our country stands above 3 billion dollars. However these figures simply indicate to the basic level and we expect them to grow above 3 billion dollars. On the other hand, I believe the volume of foreign investment inflow to our country is much higher than what has been announced. These are simply those figures which have been available to us and registered. That's why I believe one of the major weak points in the country is the lack of a databank to offer statistics on investments received by Iran from outside which must be divided in two categories of direct and indirect investments.
Of course, the Central Bank of Iran has taken initiatives to materialize such plan. We have discussed the issue with the managers of the bank. Definitely the original task of CBI in arranging the balance of payments is to pay attention to absorbing foreign investment and investment in foreign countries. God willing through an official order given by CBI, the path is increasingly facilitated for establishing a comprehensive and reliable data bank for investment in the country.
You noted that 3 billion dollars was received by our country, how much was the share of Iranian expatriates?
They played a pivotal role in directing foreign investment to their original country. In 2009 the relevant amount was almost 30 billion dollars, but through measures adopted both by us and the Secretariat of Iranian Expatriates Council, the amount increased by 2 billion dollars in 2010. It testifies that when you introduce the potentials, economic environment, situation and provide the ground for dialogue with private sector more, you will be able to reabsorb the investments. In this case, as well as their own financial sources, the Iranians brought foreign investment with themselves.
We enjoyed successful experiences of investments made by Iranians who live and work outside as they have joined the plan through forming coalitions. It means that as well as their own investments, they could urge big companies and international credible brands to invest in Iran in the form of a correlation.
How much is your target amount for attracting foreign investment in the current year?
In the year of 1390 [started on March 21, 2011], the "year of economic Jihad" we aim to raise the level of foreign investment inflow to the country by 100 percent.
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