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Iran Gov't Moving Toward Downsizing and Free Market Economy

The Majlis speaker says plans to revive the ailing economy should top the agenda of all branches of government
President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a meeting with lawmakers in Tehran on June 7.  President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a meeting with lawmakers in Tehran on June 7.

President Hassan Rouhani, who was reelected last month, reaffirmed his reform plans to develop a climate conducive to a free and competitive economy.

“Politics should be withdrawn from the economic landscape to make room for the private sector. The government should give up [control of] the economy. Neither the government, nor our dear military personnel are good business managers,” the president was quoted as saying Tuesday by his official website.

“We need to hand over the reins of the economy to the people  and help create a competitive environment.”

Rouhani was addressing a gathering of lawmakers in a feast of Iftar to break the Ramadan fast in Tehran.

The moderate cleric fought a strong conservative challenge for reelection in the May 19 presidential vote by winning 57% of the ballots cast.

Rouhani first came to office in 2013 on a moderate platform to revive Iran’s foreign policy and revive the struggling economy saddled with years of international sanctions.

He oversaw negotiations that led to the 2015 landmark agreement to end the protracted conflict with the West over the nuclear energy program.

It has been in place since January 2016 to remove the shackles of global restrictions on the economy in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear program.

The nuclear accord, widely seen as Rouhani’s signature achievement, and his economic performance have been the main targets of conservative critics and the focus of their presidential election campaign.

His rivals took every opportunity to highlight grievances that tangible benefits from the pact have not trickled down to the masses, especially those at the lower-end of the economic ladder.

 Indispensible Opening

The opponents have railed against his policy of open trade with the outside world in the wake of the sanctions relief on concerns that it could leave the Islamic Republic vulnerable to hostile western governments.

Rouhani has often argued that a limited opening to the West is indispensable if the economy is to weather the prolonged slump and move forward.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told the meeting that plans to revive the ailing economy should top the agenda of the three branches of government.

He renewed a call to Rouhani to appoint capable people to his Cabinet on the basis of merit and regardless of their political leanings.

“What is important is that competent and qualified people run the country’s affairs,” the lawmaker said.

 

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