Economy, Domestic Economy

New Chief, New Approach

Yahya Ale-Es’haqYahya Ale-Es’haq

Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture has set September 4 as a date for a special election to fill its leadership seat now left vacant by the shock resignation of Mohsen Jalalpour. “A national figure rather than a representative of a particular sector should take over the major business entity in Iran,” says former minister of commerce and a former head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Yahya Ale-Es’haq in an opinion piece published in the  Persian-language newspaper Donya-e-Eqtesad on Monday. The daily is a sister publication of the Financial Tribune.

The private sector is the locomotive of the economy across the world. This gives further importance to the role the chambers of commerce play in different economies. In Iran, the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture has become the spearhead of other chambers. It is at the pinnacle of its existence.

Expectations are high for the so-called “parliament of the private sector” since the economy is going through a transition phase—moving away from a centrally-planned economy to market mechanisms. As per Article 44 of the Constitution, the economy must undergo structural reform by means of privatization. All three branches of the government believe economic activities must be handed over to the private entities. Ultimate responsibilities rest with ICCIMA including, but not limited to, handling foreign delegations. Visiting dignitaries such as presidents hold meetings with Iran chamber’s top representatives. ICCIMA also acts as a consultant to the legislative, judicial and executive branches.

Iran is grappling with a variety of economic challenges. Recession, unemployment, water crisis and decline in oil revenues, among other things, have forced the country into unusual circumstances. Now all eyes are on ICCIMA. The person who intends to take the helm of this business lobby group needs to take into consideration and have plans for all these challenges. He or she should keep abreast of recent international developments and must be capable of comprehensively analyzing them. He or she should have a say in the parliament, the cabinet and decision-making organizations.

His rapport with the full spectrum of economic players is of great importance. Once he builds trust with business leaders, they will welcome his initiatives.

One should accept the fact that ICCIMA is an organization within the establishment. No ministry wields as much influence in Iran’s economy as this chamber. Meanwhile, it is no easy task to safeguard the interests of the private sector and make its members feel represented.

But now, the chamber’s decision makers are showing more concern about their own interests at the expense of the entire entity.

National economic prosperity must be the first priority of the new boss of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture. In short, only a national figure qualified enough to represent the entirety of Iran’s private sector rather than a particular sector deserves to take over ICCIMA, the former minister wrote.