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Soltanifar Wants Bigger Role for Handicraft Sector
People, Travel

Soltanifar Wants Bigger Role for Handicraft Sector

The country’s handicrafts industry is expected to receive a boost next year, announced the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), Massoud Soltanifar.
To ensure the industry features strongly in the next five year economic development plan, Soltanifar urged private sector leaders to collaborate with the government, ISNA reported.
“Handicrafts can make a significant contribution to the overall production of the country, yet over the past decade the industry appears to have been all but sidestepped,” he said.
While a sub-section of the industry has called for handicrafts to have zero value added tax, and have asked for government subsidies, the handicrafts organization head did not believe this could be achievable in the foreseeable future, “given the current economic climate when the government’s income from oil revenues has been halved.”
Soltanifar however, pointed to non-oil industries such as the handicrafts industry as effective alternatives for income generation and job creation.  
“The issue is in the sale and trade of handicrafts and not merely production,” asserted the ICHHTO head at a meeting with artisans and industry leaders.
Even if the government meets all of the industry’s demands, it would be futile if the products are not sold.  The government cannot treat this industry as a charity, making a donation and not having a return on its funds.  It is for this reason that an emphasis needs to be placed on stimulating domestic and international trade, Soltanifar said.
“The increased industry presence at foreign trade fairs and tourism conferences is encouraging, but our efforts can not end here. A display of our wares is a step in the right direction; however it must then be followed up with contracts and result in sales”, he added.
The administration fully supports development in areas of culture, heritage and handicrafts, the recent MOUs are a clear indication of this, said the ICHHTO head.
The government is also fully aware of the artisans needs, particularly their need for insurance cover.
Providing opportunities in the handicrafts industry for the deprived and underprivileged is also being pursued by the government.  To this end, there have been meetings with Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president for women and family affairs, to encourage involvement and participation of the Social Welfare Organization and the Imam Khomeimi Relief Foundation.

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