Iran council rejects law to protect foreign investment
Iran's powerful conservative oversight Guardians Council on Thursday, June 14, rejected a bill recently passed by the reformist-dominated parliament aimed at encouraging and protecting foreign investment.
The council said some of the bill's articles may cause "foreign governments to endanger (Iran's) territorial independence" and encourage "a domination of foreigners on the nation's economy, as well as their infiltration."
"This bill has considered the rights of foreigners which might cause losses to Iranians and represent a violation to public interests," the council wrote in a seven-point letter carried by the pro-reform Norouz daily.
The council concluded that the bill, passed by parliament last month, "gives preference to foreign investors rather than Iranian ones."
The bill sought to bar the seizure or nationalization of authorized foreign assets except "in the national interest and following legal procedure," removing a crucial stumbling block to investor confidence.
It would have also allowed foreign investors to enjoy all the rights and assistance given to their Iranian counterparts, although they are barred from holding a monopoly or having special rights.
Under the law, applications for investments were to be submitted to a commission including deputy ministers of the economy and foreign affairs, and finally approved by the economy minister.
The current holder of that post, Hossein Namazi, said that the government hoped to encourage investments of $1.7 billion a year if the legislation was approved.
The council's ruling comes just six days after the landslide re-election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, and is the latest rejection of a string of government initiatives to open up Iran's state-dominated economy. ― (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)