EghtesadOnline: The presence of the chairman of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, as the representative of the Iranian private sector, in Cabinet meetings and commissions will benefit both economic players and the government alike, a former head of the chamber proposed on his Telegram channel.
Our private sector, Mohsen Jalapour added, has been shortchanged in the past five to six decades.
He noted that many high-ranking officials have attested to the fact and insisted on the importance of the expansion of the sector’s activities.
“To take huge steps, the private sector needs to believe in itself. The notion would be the first and most readily achieved result of the attendance of a representative from that sector in the Cabinet meetings. This will convey the message to businesspeople that they have been officially recognized and taken seriously,” Jalalpour was quoted as saying by Financial Tribune’s sister publication, the Persian weekly Tejarat-e-Farda.
Following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and world powers in 2015 and its implementation in the following year, quasi-state companies were the main winners of foreign investments and, likewise, drew the ire of private sector.
The quasi-state sector consists of businesses registered as private entities under Iran’s Commerce Code, but in reality are either wholly or partially owned by the military, foundations and pension funds.
Apparently, in their showdown with the quasi-state companies, economic operators of the private sector were not strong enough to grab the new opportunities opened up by the nuclear deal.
Another outcome, the official said, is that this representation could be a link between the public and private sectors, and convey the hardships and handicaps faced by each side.
“Today the government is almost clueless of the stumbling blocks in the way of business activities and the private sector too does not fully understand the limitations faced by the government,” he said.
At present, according to Jalalpour, members of the private sector are like the relatives of a patient in the operation room, waiting for the result of the surgery carried out by the medical team, which is the government in this analogy.
“We have to wait in distress to see what the government decides with regard to the economic situation of the country. This is while a representative of ours in the decision-making stages can tip the balance in our favor to an extent,” he said.
“Also, this representative can help change the ministers’ perception of the private sector and bring it closer to reality. At present, some government officials have a rather socialist, left-wing view toward the private sector and see it as a somewhat redundant element. This should be corrected.”
Jalalpour stressed that there needs to be a change in the rails on which the Iranian economy is moving.
For many consecutive decades, the private sector has asked for the government’s support.
“But today, we are shouting at the top of our lungs that we don’t want support, but a movement toward a free and competitive economy. We want the hampering factors to be eliminated and the powerful rivals, who use rents and illegitimate facilities, to be put aside so that a healthy atmosphere is created for free economic activities,” he said.
A representative of the private sector in Cabinet meetings can ease this change of rails and guide it along the right path.
Jalalpour, who currently serves as the head of Iran Pistachio Association, was replaced by Gholamhossein Shafei to lead the Iran chamber in September 2016, after he resigned from the post of ICCIMA leadership citing poor health.
A Brief History of Iranian Chamber of Commerce
Members of Iran Commerce Chamber’s board of director were first appointed by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
In the first election of the chamber, Seyyed Alinaqi Khamoushi was chosen as the chairman of both Iran and Tehran chambers. He remained at the helm for 28 years.
In December 2007, Mohammad Nahavandian (now presidential deputy for economic affairs) took over as Khamoushi’s successor.
Nahavandian was determined to develop a favorable business environment so that the members could participate in various economic areas and help improve the economic and social indexes, enhance business competitiveness at the national, regional and international levels, and promote the economic and social status of economic players, entrepreneurs and the ICCIMA members, according to the chamber’s website.
The first appointment made by President Hassan Rouhani after taking office in 2013 was the designation of Nahavanian as his chief of staff. Rouhani’s choice was seen as an outreach to the private sector. The president has often underlined that his top priority is to resolve economic problems and give a more prominent role to private enterprise.
In December 2013, Shafei, the two-term deputy head of the chamber, was elected as chairman. In the eighth election for the Iran chamber, Mohsen Jalalpour took over as chairman in June 2015.
Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture is a non-profit entity with a juridical role and financial independence. Its duties and authorities as stated on ICCIMA’s website, include:
- Creating coordination and cooperation among businesses, industrial, mineral and agricultural entrepreneurs in enforcing the relevant laws and regulations.
- Offering consultancy to the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of government on economic issues such as commerce, industry and mining.
- Cooperation with the executive agencies and other authorities to execute the laws and rules related to the chamber.
- Communication with the chambers of other countries and establishing joint chambers and commissions based on the strategic policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Holding specialized and commercial exhibitions inside and outside the country with the approval of the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade and participation in seminars and conferences related to the chamber’s commercial, industrial, mineral and agricultural activities in the framework of the country’s policies.
- Surveying foreign markets for Iranian exports and encouraging and assisting companies to participate in commercial fairs inside and outside the country.
- Encouraging domestic investment in production, especially with the objective of enhancing exports.
- Surveying and arbitrating national and international disputes that may arise between members or other companies through the establishment of the ICCIMA’s Arbitration Center.
- Issuing membership cards in accordance with the bylaws of the Iran chamber to complete the documents required for issuance of commercial cards.
- Establishing export and import unions and manufacturing syndicates related to commercial, industrial, mineral and services activities.
- Holding courses related to commercial, industrial, mining and services sectors in accordance with national requirements.
- Supplying, issuing, settling and certifying documents that are assigned to ICCIMA by virtue of international rules and in coordination with the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade.