EghtesadOnline: In a groundbreaking decision, the government has announced measures to transfer its accounts from agent banks to the Central Bank of Iran in line with its policies to promote transparency and avoid dodgy practices related to expenditure.
CBI, as the government’s bank, is legally entitled to provide banking services to all public-sector organizations. As per the law, all state bodies should deposit their money at CBI. However, due to the lack of proper infrastructure, CBI was forced to move the government’s accounts to a number of agent banks, both government-owned and private.
Last week, Rahmatollah Akrami, deputy economy minister for financial regulation, said the Treasury and CBI have started implementing plans for moving government accounts to the central bank.
“The government’s plans for promoting transparency of resources is in line with Resistance Economy’s guidelines and will be implemented through a digital treasury management platform,” he was quoted as saying during a meeting with representatives of 200 state-owned bodies.
“This is a huge task for the central bank, but it has proved to be capable of carrying out huge projects,” he added.
The move comes after the recent salary scandal of executives at state-owned entities prompted President Hassan Rouhani to enforce drastic anti-corruption measures such as capping executive salaries, including those of ministers and bank CEOs.
The ability to develop efficient platforms for various banking operations is among the Central Bank of Iran’s advantages.
CBI’s attempts for developing platforms such as Shetab, Shaparak, Satna, Chakavak and Paya has all been successful, as all of them are highly workable and user-friendly.
CBI has developed a specific platform for managing and supervising the government’s resource called NASIM and stands for the Persian equivalent of “modern comprehensive system of CBI”.
According to CBI’s website, NASIM in the first phase will be employed to accumulate the government’s resources in a single account in the central bank, with the level of access to the account strictly supervised and monitored.
In the second phase, NASIM would host payments and transactions of government bodies. This means CBI would pay government employees’ salaries, “based on the set caps”.
Majlis Research Center recently published a report on challenges faced in putting the policy into practice, proposing solutions for the matter.
Keeping the government’s resources in agent banks has caused many problems in recent years, including lack of online access to the accounts by CBI and the Treasury, lack of efficiency in allocation of resources, slow circulation of capital in the banking sector, expansion of state-owned banks' monopoly in offering services to the government, and the spread of rent-seeking behavior among bankers, reports Financial Tribune.
The think tank claims that banks and a couple of public-sector institutions have been resisting the plan to transfer the government’s money to CBI, “mainly because government deposits are profitable”.
The parliamentary body recommends employing effective guarantees for the implementation of transparency policies. “It must be clear that such acts constitute a violation … Banks should be punished for breaking the law,” it said.
In order to push public-sector bodies to comply with the policy, Majlis Research Center recommends “withholding funding [envisioned in the annual budget] for organizations refraining from moving their money to CBI”.
“The issue must be emphasized in the sixth five-year development plan,” it suggests, adding that a timeline should be set for the implementation of the policies.
Majlis Research Center's report shows that by September 20, 2014, ministries had parked 96% of their total accounts in state-owned banks, accounting for 77% of their resources.
The think tank also calls for a clear definition of “government account”, as multiple impressions about the notion has been causing confusion.
“Majlis could come up with a unified definition for the term,” it said.