President Advocates Moving Capital as Remedy for Problems

President Advocates Moving  Capital as Remedy for Problems President Advocates Moving  Capital as Remedy for Problems

President Hassan Rouhani said shifting the administrative capital from Tehran can help reduce the problems and strains of the megapolis, in a message to the ‘Decentralization & Capital’s Improvement’ seminar.

Rouhani’s message was read by the Chancellor of Tehran’s Tarbiat Modarres University. The president appreciated the work of the conference organizers in decentralization and said “moving the political center from Tehran can be a solution to the short, middle and long-term problems” that the country is wrestling with because of the “centralization policies that have turned Tehran into a political and financial nexus,” reports Iran newspaper.

The plan to move the capital which has a 12 million population was first proposed after much heated debate in 2012, but the Majlis rejected the bill at the outset because of the huge costs that would entail. When the Rouhani government took office in 2013, the bill got a second chance; with some changes from the new executive, the bill was passed and now awaits the final approval of the Guardian Council.

The president also voiced concern about a myriad of challenges that are threatening the metropolitan area of Tehran and its residents. “There has been talk of moving the capital for nearly three decades,” Rouhani said. “Overpopulation, concentration of capital and resources, various environmental issues, traffic jams, substandard conditions of living, and above all earthquake hazards has led everyone to acknowledge that centralization is a threat.” With the president’s weight behind the issue, the hopes of decentralization and thus alleviating Tehran from its chaotic state may bear fruit.

The chief executive further said: “there is no doubt that the plan to weigh the options of decentralization and moving the administrative capital whose basic premises  have been ratified by the Majlis can be successful if pursued with seriousness and persistence.”  

  TM’s Thumbs-Down   

Attending the seminar was also Tehran mayor, Baqer Ghaliabf who cast uncertainty on the proposal of moving the capital. In his address, Ghalibaf argued that all studies so far have concluded that shifting the capital from Tehran “is not simply feasible.”

“Based on my own national and local experience in different security, economic, and technical areas, I can say this is not achievable regardless of the fact whether there are enough funds in the national coffers or not,” Ghalibaf maintained.

He acknowledged the fact that issuing building permits has become a source of “rent-seeking” for the municipality “as its biggest source of earnings” but said “this is as bad as oil income becoming the bane of government’s economic woes.”