Adjusting Economic Contours

Deputy Chief Editor
Adjusting Economic Contours
Adjusting Economic Contours

Leaving politics, for now, to political scientists, it is in the interest of rulers and the ruled to look closely at what is unfolding on the economic landscape with a direct bearing on the lives of billions across the planet.

We have indeed entered one of the most challenging economic times in Iran, the region and beyond. The nature and scale of problems visiting countries are obviously dissimilar and different. But it can, and must, be said that one domain is common to almost all nations save for the depth and degree. And that common denominator is the economy.

When leaders from Afghanistan to Switzerland look at the books and do the numbers it is highly likely that most, if not all, get nightmares.  One need not be a rocket scientist to understand that in the world we live in power is increasingly defined in terms of a productive and solvent economy.

Whether we like it or not, we are approaching a period when an increasing number of informed minds in Iran will ask two simple questions:

-how does our nation allocate its resources

-what are the country's most urgent needs and responsibilities

An observer who regularly monitors the economic and political contours of Tehran made a rare statement that seemed more like a timely warning to those who manger our affairs and speak on our behalf. "Merely taking out oil from the ground and exporting the black gold can hardly sell as an economy. We Iranians have to think of different ways to run the affairs of this large country. To continue in our (old) ways will push us further towards economic vulnerability," he said, as a matter of fact.             

It can be claimed that tomorrow would be a bit too late. Not taking the benefit of tired clichés and diplomatic niceties, the Rouhani administration needs to deliver on his signature promise during his election campaign in the summer of last year. He has to deliver, in that he and his aides should openly and without much concern for ‘vote banks’ or political considerations, answer the first question. Doing otherwise is not an option. Posterity judges on performance and honesty to the masses.

On the issue of urgent needs and responsibilities, the first and the last feedback is indeed the health of the economy. Here again the core issue is transparency and public awareness. It is the obligation of elected rulers to delineate needs and priorities on which they build their strategies.

As we adjust to new realities, changes and challenges in the Middle East, responsible economic governance founded on pragmatism and vision will indeed be the hallmark of our interaction with the outside world. In the recent past saddling the economy with state-owned loss-making companies was beyond conventional wisdom. The engine of progress, as is abundantly clear in the ways of many developing economies registering decent growth levels, is the private sector. And the same goes for exports and the ease of doing business.

Let there be no illusion. If Iran wants to have a functioning and modern economy, in which rights and duties are unblemished, it should first have a real rule of law. With this paradigm in place, the other key elements, like economic recovery, jobs, decent growth, welfare, and interaction with the world will follow suit.