Iranian Parliament Approves Merger of Four Key Economic Ministries
Iran's parliament Sunday passed, by a large majority, a bill to merge four key economic ministries into two.
The government of President Mohammed Khatami had already approved the move last Sunday.
The centrist Entekhab newspaper said then that the merger was designed "to make them more efficient and streamline bureaucracy."
MPs will discuss the details of the merger in subsequent sessions.
Under the plan, the ministries of agriculture and of reconstruction will merge into one, to be known as the ministry of agriculture and the crusade for reconstruction. The reconstruction ministry was created following the 1979 Islamic revolution with the task of developing rural areas.
The other merger affects the ministries of industry and of mines and metals, which will become the ministry of industry and mines.
The changes will entail a reshuffle of the government, which will also include the ministry of post and telecommunications whose current holder, Mohammad-Reza Aref, has been named vice-president with responsibility for the organization of planning and budget.
Reformists, who won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections earlier this year, had been clamoring for a reshuffle in order to be represented in Khatami's government, formed when he came to power in August 1997.
Khatami currently heads a coalition cabinet that includes reformist, moderate and radical groups.
The merger of ministries is the second carried out since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The government wrapped the heavy industries ministry into the industry portfolio in the 1990s - TEHRAN (AFP)
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