Hossein Abdoh Tabrizi, a financial expert and senior adviser to the minister of roads and urban development, said on Iranian state television last month that the pension funds have not been supervised in the past three decades, even though they have freely been managing public coffers.
Indeed, in the recent past, pension funds have been competing with one another to buy state companies during the privatization drive that kicked off in 2008. The problem has been that these funds, and the companies in which they have bought shares, have remained under the management of people directly appointed by the government. Hence, these privatized companies are effectively still under state management, but with no oversight of their performance.
Abdoh Tabrizi says strong supervision and regular appraisals would help improve the performance of pension funds and their subsidiaries alike. In the end, pursuing genuine privatization appears to be the most effective means of helping address the current problems faced by the pension funds, with most experts also urging a higher retirement age.