By Alireza Ramezani, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Shift to open market economy no easy task for Iran
Late last month, the Management and Planning Organization (MPO) of Iran drafted the country’s sixth five-year strategic development plan. In the plan, the MPO urges the administration of President Hassan Rouhani to dissolve the Organization for the Protection of Consumers and Producers (OPCP), which critics say disrupts markets by intervening in pricing mechanisms.
If the proposed action on this matter is passed by the parliament, the Rouhani administration will have one year to dissolve the controversial OPCP, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade.
MPO’s announcement came after Abbas Akhoundi (pictured), minister of roads and urban development, engaged in harsh criticism of OPCP executives who recently annulled his ministry’s decision to increase the prices of train tickets. Akhoundi slammed those seeking to artificially suppress prices as “socialists” and “Marxists” whose performance in recent decades has caused “monopolistic” groups to take shape in the country.
Despite efforts to apparently get rid of a state pillar that adopts distorting pricing policies, the MPO left two other disciplinary entities — the Governmental Discretionary Punishments Organization (GDPO), affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, and the Competition Council, affiliated with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance — free to operate.
These two organizations largely limit the public and private sectors from competitively pricing goods and services. Some economists say that if the Rouhani administration is serious about liberalizing the economy, it should order the dissolving of the GDPO and Competition Council as well, even as others consider it as overly challenging to completely liberalize the economy overnight.