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Battle Over 'Resistance Economy' Deepens Divisions in Iran

By Firoozeh Matin (source: Rooz Online)

Ahmadinejad's Handlers Have Become More Demanding

While government media and propaganda organizations are filled with the term “resistance economy” these days, reports indicate a deepening difference among economic activists and the various contradictory rules in the laws and economic practices. In this light, the government has suddenly reduced its direct subsidies to the public while at the same time major economic corruption cases are surfacing almost at a daily frequency.

The same situation exists regarding the priorities on production and imports. On one hand the government proclaims that it wants to expand domestic production while on the other there is talk of uncontrolled import of luxury goods into the country, a reduction in import tariffs for automobiles, etc. In this atmosphere, groups and media that defended this chaos during Ahmadinejad’s administration have now turned into critics of these very policies and defend the current administration’s policies and efforts.

Jahan News hardline website, for example, run by Alireza Zakani, has received millions of Tomans on the pretext of “the soft war” from the ministry of culture and the Islamic Propagation Organization, but now presents itself as an “anti-corruption” media. Just yesterday, the site posted a list of luxury products that continue to be imported into the country and criticized the administration for disregarding ayatollah Khamenei’s most recent directive about ‘resistance economy’ and his emphasis on boosting domestic production, diversification in the sources of imports, drawing-up a consumption model for the country, etc. The article specifically mentions that a list of 42 luxury items that are categorized as ‘category 10’ products on the list of luxury items were removed after ayatollah Khamenei’s latest directives on ‘resistance economy.’ Importers of luxury cars and household goods have used their media and government contacts and lobbies to curtain efforts to ban the import of luxury items, the report wrote.

Fars News agency published the government’s directive and the list of 43 items from the ‘category 10’ luxury list that are marked to be removed from the list, this permitting their imports.

Mashreq website also criticized the effort to remove the 43 items from the banned list and characterized it to contradict Khamenei’s most recent directive. It also criticized the minister of industries and the trade policy of the current administration, writing, “meats and protein products, clothing, some fruits, building material, household goods, furniture, billiard tables and ski equipment are part of the category 10 luxury items whose import into the country will harm domestic producers. Last year following the international banking sanctions and a shortage of foreign exchange in the country, the government, under pressure from the Majlis, decided to ban the import of these products, which did not disrupt domestic markets and in fact resulted in a boom in domestic production. But now, with the suspension of this ban, these luxury items can again be imported into the country. The administration claims that the policies of the economy of resistance have nothing to do with the import-ban list. But a look at the list of policies on the resistance economy plan shows that the government’s decisions conflict with four of these policies.”

According to Mehr News agency, minister of industries Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh has defended the policies of the current administration regarding its imports policies.

It should be noted that during Ahmadinejad’s administration, its minister of health had said that Porsche cars were imported into Iran using funds allocated for the import of medicine. No supervisory agency followed up on this violation by the government and even right wing sites ignored this case of corruption.

Military and security agencies in Iran who wield considerable influence over the country’s economy have also passed comments on resistance economy. The representative of ayatollah Khamenei in the Central Province, Rahim Poorazghodi, said that resistance economy viewed the source of economic problems to be domestic, rather than foreign. He defended the policies and said they would break the obstacles and shortages in the country. Another government appointed official, the head of the Kanoone Farhangi Honari Masajed organization in Semnan Province (the Cultural-Artistic Center for Mosques) called for “building the culture” of resistance economy.

General Naghdi, the outspoken head of the Basij para-military mobilization force that operates under the command of the Revolutionary Guards, also jumped on the band wagon and claimed that the Basij had increased its activities in the field of resistance economy “many fold” and asserted it disappointed the enemies of the state.

... Payvand News - 03/06/14 ... --

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