Majlis Votes to Unseat Industry Minister
EghtesadOnline: Fatemi Amin was removed from office with 162 out of 272 votes, while 102 lawmakers opposed his dismissal and two abstained.
The Iranian parliament on Sunday voted to dismiss the minister of industry, mines and trade after an impeachment hearing attended by President Ebrahim Raisi.
Lawmakers took up a motion to impeach Reza Fatemi Amin over his inefficiency in several areas, but particularly for his mismanagement of the automobile market that has resulted in unjustifiably soaring prices.
Fatemi Amin had earlier been brought before the parliament last year, but managed to win a vote confidence and remained in office.
During the Sunday session, parliamentarians spoke for and against the minister and heard his defense for four hours, before the president’s one-hour address.
In the end, Fatemi Amin was removed from office with 162 out of 272 votes, while 102 lawmakers opposed his dismissal and two abstained. Six votes were void.
Lawmakers accused Fatemi Amin for lack of management abilities, making vows, especially regarding the automobile industry, which he could not deliver on, as well as presenting fabricated statistics.
They also censured him for problems such as hoarding of goods and lobbying in giving mining licenses.
“The industry minister has turned the purchase of cars and house appliances and starting a family into a dream for Iranian youth,” a member of parliament said.
Another lawmaker said the Majlis had given an opportunity to the industry minister twice which he could not use properly.
Those who opposed the impeachment underlined his honesty and stressed that the minister would need more time to complete his plans.
They also called on other parliamentarians to avoid assessing the minister by a single criterion, namely the automobile industry.
In his defense speech, Fatemi Amin strongly dismissed any allegations about lobbying to elude impeachment as “utterly false”.
“The nation of Iran must know that Fatemi Amin, as their servant, has not become involved in corruption,” he said, in reference to an accusation of bribing lawmakers to withdraw the impeachment motion.
He later stressed that the price of automobiles depends on major economic variables, including exchange rates, which are out of his control.
“Since the middle of last year, we have entered a currency war,” he said, referring to the depreciation of the rial.
He explained that the surge in automobile prices began at that time as a result of what he called “fake demands” by people who aimed to keep the value of their wealth.
Despite the adverse effects of sanctions on production, automobile manufacturing saw a 39% increase last year amid tightened sanctions, he added.
Fatemi Amin said his plans for the control of the market included increasing production and import of cars, but have faced impediments, including by what he described as a “mafia”.
“I’ve said repeatedly that we have a four-year plan for the state of the automobile [market] and are now halfway there,” he said.
In the end, he asked lawmakers to give him time to complete his half-finished work.
“Give me time and you will see the result of a second confidence,” he said.
Raisi, who attended the impeachment session along with a few of his other Cabinet members, also spoke in defense of his minister and highlighted his uncorrupt and anti-corruption character.
He said the performance of the minister should not be judged by merely assessing the automobile sector, while other areas have experienced acceptable progress.
“Different sectors make decisions about automobiles, but when it comes to assessment of the situation, it is only the industry minister who should respond,” he said.
The president also asserted that the industry minister’s plans for this sector are yet incomplete and need more time to bear fruit.
After voting, Majlis Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf read out the results, saying Fatemi Amin could not win a second vote confidence from the parliament.
He then thanked the minister and wished him success in his future positions.