Iran's new economy minister wants privatization push
Iran's newly appointed Economy Minister Tahmasb Mazaheri on Tuesday, August 28, criticized the nation's staggering economy and called for the creation of a privatization organization, the state IRNA news agency said.
"Despite the vast natural resources and existing potential in the country, the unemployment rate has been high while the quality of products has not been suitable," Mazaheri said. "The economic situation and minimum necessities have not been ensured for the people."
The minister also expressed hope that a privatization organization could "take effective measures for the sale of government companies and the creation of a competitive economic atmosphere for investments in the private sector."
Mazaheri also referred to "certain hindrances in attracting non-governmental investments" but did not clarify. Mazaheri's comments come just two days after moderate President Mohammad Khatami, who was elected to a second four-year term in June, said economic reforms would not come easy.
"Reforms, notably in the economic field, are a twisted task which can only take place step by step and gradually. One cannot expect to witness fundamental changes in this structure in the short term," he said.
Khatami said "strengthening the private sector" as well as "decreasing the budget's dependence on oil" would be two of his goals in the coming four years.
Last week Iran's reform-majority parliament approved all 20 cabinet ministers proposed by Khatami after four days of intense debates on sensitive issues such as the nation's high unemployment, the weak economy and inflation. Oil still accounts for the vast majority of Iran's foreign currency revenues.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on the nation's new cabinet to follow the example of the United States and make use of economic power to influence political issues, state radio reported Tuesday.
"Look, the United States clearly says that Iran is the best route for transferring the Caspian sea's resources, but for political reasons it opposes" the plan, Khamenei said during a meeting Monday with re-elected moderate President Mohammad Khatami and his new cabinet.
According to Khamenei, the "United States is right to do so from the point of view of their own politics. "For certain they are damned by God, but they are right because that is how one should proceed," Islamic Iran's supreme leader said.
The Iranian government should "also utilize the weapon of commercial and economic exchanges in political conflicts with this and that country," Khamenei said without naming any specific countries. "We see for example that the foreign ministry has a political problem with a certain country ... and takes political measures, while at the same time, other ministries such as commerce and economy carry on with their affairs with the concerned countries," Khamenei added. ― (AFP, Tehran)
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