Iran parliament mulling ways to boost foreign investment
Iran's reformist parliament held a closed-door session Tuesday to discuss ways of lowering the barriers to foreign investment in the Islamic republic, sources told AFP.
Economy Minister Hossein Namazi, Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi and central bank chief Mohsen Nourbakhsh were among the participants but there were no further details available on the session, they said.
It was the first meeting of its kind since the reformist parliament took office in May, but in recent weeks the legislature has voiced support for easing the way to greater foreign investment here.
Outside the energy sector, international investment in Iran is allowed only in theory, as fears over investment guarantees as well as Iran's cumbersome administrative and currency-exchange apparatus effectively keep foreign money out.
The Iranian constitution allows no more than 49 percent ownership in key sectors of the economy which are still controlled by the state.
Meanwhile estimates show Iran needs some $100 billion in foreign capital to overhaul its outdated heavy-industry sector and create some 800,000 new jobs to combat soaring unemployment.
Iran in recent years has attempted to boost outside investment in its resource-rich energy sector, which to date has gotten no more than about 10 billion dollars in foreign capital.
"There is a clear desire in Iran to welcome (foreign) investments," but Tehran must change its laws "because it is still a country with many risks," a political analyst with the Canadian Society for the Expansion of Exports said here last month.
Iranian Industry Minister Gholamreza Shafei in July also warned that political tensions between reformers and their conservative rivals were acting as a "brake" on private sector investment and contributing to capital flight. – (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)