People, Environment

More Support for Making DOE a Ministry

Lawmakers tried but failed last year to turn the DOE into a ministry.Lawmakers tried but failed last year to turn the DOE into a ministry.

The topic of turning the Department of Environment into a ministry is once again gaining momentum a year after efforts to elevate the department to the status of a ministry failed.

Ali Mohammad Shaeri, the head of Majlis Agriculture Commission, has lent his support to the move, taking a visibly anti-big government stance.

"Turning the department into a ministry will help downsize the government and make the lackluster DOE perform its tasks better," he told ISNA.

The lawmaker said the department is incapable of carrying out its obligations and a change is necessary.

He further said merging the DOE with the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization will help "create a powerful and capable ministry with sufficient workforce, strong organizational structure and appropriate funding".

Getting to the main reason behind his stance, Shaeri said the move "will create an environment body answerable to the parliament".

Earlier this week, Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh, deputy head of the parliamentary environment group, renewed the call, arguing that the move would give environment officials "more political clout" and that "the government is of the same opinion".

Last year, lawmakers were highly critical of both the government and DOE chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and tried to pass a bill to turn the department into a ministry, but their efforts failed.

Ebtekar and her deputies have long argued that the move will do more harm than good by granting lawmakers full control over the department’s affairs, allowing them to put a spoke in the DOE’s wheel. The sentiment is echoed by activists who say giving the parliament power over the department will lead to politics, rather than science and reason, to dictate terms to the DOE.

The DOE receives less funding compared to ministries and although the head of the department does not have the same political clout as a minister, President Hassan Rouhani addressed that problem by appointing Ebtekar as one of his vice presidents.

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