EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani’s two major picks to navigate the economy for the next four years had a hectic time hobnobbing with private sector leaders to develop an early cordiality.
On Sunday, Masoud Karbasian and Mohammad Shariatmadari, who are nominated to head the Economy Ministry and the Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade respectively, met with officials of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
“Fortunately, after much speculation, members of the next Cabinet have been introduced to the parliament and we can announce that we are pleased with the proposed candidates to preside over the economy and industries ministries,” Masoud Khansari, the TCCIM chief, was quoted as saying by the official website of the chamber.
Referring to the planned unification of dual foreign exchange rates which, according to the Central Bank of Iran’s Governor Valiollah Seif, is to be implemented “early in the new administration”, Khansari said it is “one of the necessary schemes” that the government must execute in its second tenure.
According to Financial Tribune, the official also pointed to reforming energy prices, managing subsidies and addressing the dire situation of banks, which entails reducing interest rates, as other issues the private sector looks forward to in the coming years.
Owing to the fact that the Iranian economy is grappling with many problems and time is running out to address them, Khansari urged the ministers to view the private sector as “a partner of the government” and consult it regularly.
Ali Sanginian, as the head of the Money and Capital Commission of the chamber, said one of the prerequisites of capital market growth is reducing faulty regulations and addressing banking hurdles.
Mohammad Lahouti, the head of Iran Export Confederation, emphasized that stabilizing foreign exchange rates and reducing interest rates will decrease the cost of production.
“As long as exports do not grow, efforts to stir the economy will not bear fruit,” he said.
Karbasian promised that President Rouhani’s second Cabinet would employ the full potential of the “intellectual capability” of the private sector and vowed to integrate all ministries and official entities, especially the Economy Ministry and the central bank, whose governor Valiollah Seif he has known for more than three decades.
“Our first principle in controlling forex rates is to attract foreign capital, especially since our economy is not predictable and influenced by various factors,” he said.
As the head of the Customs Administration in the past four years, the economy minister-designate has focused on deregulation during his career, which he intends to pursue as economy minister.
As Rouhani has made it a priority to reform the banking sector, Karbasian promised to stand by the CBI in “seriously enacting the bills to reform the banking sector” and also turn to the private sector for guidance.
Banking reforms will be pursued through two major bills dubbed the Banking Reform Bill and the Central Bank Bill, which are yet to be sent to the parliament.
Public & Private Partnership
Shariatmadari, the proposed industries minister, also focused on “collaboration and consultation” between the public and private sectors.
The private sector can assume a portion of the economic mission of the government and put forth resolutions “by establishing links with credible international institutions”, he added.
At the end of the meeting, a statement was read to extend the official support of the board of representatives of TCCIM for Karbasian and Shariatmadari.
On Saturday, the two proposed ministers had visited the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture and were joined by ICCIMA chief, Gholamhossein Shafei, and other senior officials of the chamber.
“The proposed minister gives us much hope and with the knowledge we have of him, we know that there is not much of a gap between what he says and does,” Shafei said of Karbasian and his faith in the minister’s plans for the next four years.
He also pointed out that the proposed minister had been the deputy head of ICCIMA and therefore he is aware of private sector issues.
The official called on the economy minister to devise a comprehensive economic plan, improve the business climate, engage in deregulation, reduce the number of banks and credit institutions, instill tax fairness and establish a stronger link with the international community.
Karbasian emphasized the importance of maintaining the current trend of lowering inflation rates, focusing extensively on production and job creation and moving within the frameworks of the macroeconomic plan of the country, namely the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22).
“If the government, the parliament and the private sector manage to move in the same direction, I believe that we will be able to resolve many of the current issues,” he said.
Ferial Mostofi, the head of Investment Commission at ICCIMA, was among the top officials who addressed the gathering and announced that the chamber has devised a plan for attracting more foreign investments.
“We are ready to give you the plan and work with you to implement it,” she told Karbasian.
After Mostofi, many representatives of various sectors of ICCIMA put forth their ideas, concerns, criticism and support. In conclusion, Karbasian reassured the private sector that he will review the points referred to by the representatives and they will be discussed in much more detail in future expert meetings.