Finance Minister says Iran seeks ‘Resilient’ Economy

By Barbara Slavin, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Iran is pursuing a “resilient economy” that is less dependent on oil, has reduced nonperforming loans in its banking sector and is anticipating European participation in financing a landmark Boeing deal, according to Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia.

In an interview with Al-Monitor on Oct. 7 on the sidelines of the fall meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Tayebnia gave an upbeat account of reforms undertaken since the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013.

But Tayebnia, like Rouhani and other Iranian officials, accused the United States of not completely fulfilling its promises under last year’s landmark nuclear deal and suggested that the United States should do more to facilitate Iran’s return to the international financial system.

Iran’s approach to economics has often been described as one of “resistance” to Western-led domination. Tayebnia, in comments on a panel with other ministers from oil-producing countries on the morning of Oct. 7, said a more accurate translation was “resilience.”

“The main characteristic of a resilient economy is flexibility against external shocks,” he explained in the subsequent interview. “When there is a storm, a dry tree may break very easily, but a flexible tree can survive that storm.”

According to Tayebnia, Iran has historically suffered from low economic growth, sharp fluctuations in revenue and low productivity, all of which he attributed to over-dependence on oil. “So we have to decrease reliance on oil revenue in our economy,” he said. “The resilient economy in a nutshell is one that achieves high economic growth with little fluctuation and volatility and increases the share of productivity in the economy.”

In part because of a sharp reduction in oil exports under sanctions as well as the decline in oil prices, Iran has been forced to reduce its dependence on oil revenues. Tayebnia told the earlier panel that oil revenues now account for only 30% of Iran’s budget and that his goal is to cut that to zero and to deposit oil revenues in a national investment fund.

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