EghtesadOnline: Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi speaks of “dark chapters” in the management of the capital city by his predecessor between the fiscal years 2005-6 and March 2017-18.
In a report presented at the Islamic City Council of Tehran on Sunday, Najafi referred to “the foggy atmosphere over the properties of the municipality” as the first of those chapters.
According to the mayor, there is no comprehensive report or inventory of public assets or even an accurate estimation of the value of contracts signed by the municipality to date, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.
“The municipality owns a total of 6,298 properties and land plots, the values of which have not been assessed. Moreover, no legal mechanism and process were observed during the transfer of ownership of 674 properties to real and legal entities,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Najafi took office as Tehran’s mayor in August to replace Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
The new mayor noted that public transportation continues to be an area where the city lags significantly behind the targets.
“Past transportation policies, particularly those taken before 2014-15 would give priority to vehicles rather than the environment and human beings,” he said, adding that nearly 226 kilometers of highways were added from 2005-6 to 2013-14, while the subway network expanded by only 73 kilometers.
Najafi said subway and buses constitute 9% and 10% of overall public transportation in Tehran respectively.
“Taking into account taxis as a mode of public transportation, the share of overall public transport in Tehran reaches no more than 41%,” he said.
“Tehran Metro’s length should reach 300 kilometers by the [fiscal] yearend [March 20] as targeted in the municipality’s Second Five-Year Plan. The capital city’s subway system is now 205 km long, up by a mere 53 km compared with March 2014.”
The mayor further said the previous municipal management “was under the delusion that the government owes an astronomical figure of 150 trillion rials ($3.48 billion) to Tehran Municipality, whereas the government’s debt is close to 90 trillion rials ($2.09 billion)”.
Back in October, the municipality released the balance sheet for the first six months of the current year, based on which 79% of TM revenues have unsustainable sources.
Hojjatollah Mirzaei, deputy mayor for planning and urban development, said the municipality plans to broaden its revenue sources beyond construction taxes and duties.
“The new sources,” he explained, “include taxes on municipal services and facilities, state funding, foreign investment and finance deals, value-added tax and private sector investment in economically feasible projects.”
Najafi noted in his report that the construction of the two-level Sadr Expressway and Niyayesh Tunnel in northeast and northern Tehran, which cost 44 trillion rials ($1.02 billion), are examples of “misdeeds” by some members of the previous municipal team and their uninformed decisions.
“The investment was enough to expand the rail network by 22 kilometers, given the fact that each kilometer of subway requires an average of 2 trillion rial ($46.51 million),” he said.
Speaking on the bloated size of the municipal body, which drains the finances of the distressed capital, he said, “Currently, Tehran Municipality has over 68,120 people on its payroll, which suggests there are 426 staff members to fill 100 posts.”
Referring to systemic corruption in the name of urban development and TM’s huge debts, Najafi said the city is 520 trillion rials ($12.09 billion) in debt or three times more than its current year’s budget, of which 340 trillion rials ($790.69 million) should be paid to contractors.