Rouhani to Scrap Iran’s 5-yr Development Plans?

The third issue to be given priority is the development of industries, such as mining, information technology, energy, tourism, agriculture and transportation, which officials believe will drive the economy in the next five years. And the last main policy is set to encourage the government to improve the business environment so that unemployment and poverty can be addressed in a significant way. Among other main issues raised in the review process are matters related to productivity, cyberspace, educational reforms and academic development.

Critics insist that the sixth Five-Year Development Plan must detail all aspects of its proposed policies and be crystal clear. In an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency, Abdorreza Mesri, a member of the parliamentary review panel, wondered whether the Guardian Council will give parliament the go-ahead to prepare a detailed plan on its own. In this vein, he argued that there are perhaps too many ambiguities in the proposed plan that need to be addressed.

Another critic, Ehsan Khandouzi, the head of the parliamentary research center’s economic office, criticized the plan in a September interview, saying that it lacks a clear vision. “For instance,” he said, “it doesn’t offer a clear policy on the national currency’s trend, nor does it [offer a clear policy] on the pricing policies of raw material suppliers in the energy sector.”

Despite the ongoing dispute over whether the sixth Five-Year Development Plan should include detailed economic policies, Rouhani has already signaled that he prefers strategies rather than quantitative targets. In his budget directive, the president urged the imposition of a budget-deficit cap, unification of foreign exchange rates, expansion of debt markets and avoidance of borrowing from the Central Bank as a solution to finance government development projects.

These are all signs that there will be strategic reasoning behind the budgeting process, Ghaninejad noted. He added, “The time is now ripe for the government to propose a binding legal document that can replace the vain and costly five-year development plans.”

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