While Iranians, both officials and ordinary people, are deeply concerned over the regime’s plan to liquidate public assets, the parliament has come to support the move.

During a session on Monday, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf) defended the plan that is criticized by many lawmakers who oppose granting immunity to the seven-man team responsible for its implementation.

The Government decided to sell public properties in November 2022 to raise money amid financial crisis and a large budget deficit. Similar past schemes implemented without proper rules and transparency have ended in scandals.

According to reports, the new privatization plan — approved by the heads of the three powers of the government, President Ebrahim Raisi, Judiciary Chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei and Ghalibaf — bars critics of disclosing details of transactions and suspends for two years all legislation that might prevent these transactions.

The transactions are going to take place under the supervision of a seven-man team, comprised of Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, Economy Minister Ehsan Khandouzi, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, Roads Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash, Planning and Budget Chief Massoud Mirkazemi, Parliament Speaker’s representative Pejman Pashmchizadeh and a representative to be appointed by the Judiciary Chief. The members of the taskforce are said to have absolute judicial immunity.

Making a paradoxical remark, Ghalibaf said “Immunity does not mean that the members on this board can commit crimes,” and added that “there will definitely be supervision on this board.”

The team is headed by Mokhber, who practically runs the administration and is closely linked with the office of the country’s ruler Ali Khamenei. Since the plan does not specify any supervision mechanism and grants legal immunity, it is not clear who will supervise Mokhber.Without elaborating on his role in the ratification of the measure, Ghalibaf assigned Pashmchizadeh as his representative on the board on Monday. Early in January, Pashmchizadeh did not manage to garner the needed votes for the Supreme Audit Court of Iran.

Former lawmaker Mohammad Khoshchehreh, an economics professor at Tehran University, criticized the immunity, saying that “influential people can lead the board astray.”

Denouncing the plan, Iranian investigative journalist and historian Hossein Dehbashi quipped that the plan can be described as “the distribution of the spoils” of war.

On Sunday, hardliner politician Ahmad Tavakkoli rebuked the plan to liquidate public assets with no supervision or a clear process in a letter addressed to the heads of the three government branches. Himself a regime insider and a member of the Expediency Discernment Council, Tavakkoli noted that the measure is in obvious violation of the country’s constitution. He argued that this manner of running the government is similar to the behavior of a drug addict who cannot afford to buy his drugs and decides to sell off its belongings to support his addiction.

“At the beginning of the addiction, the addict spends his income on buying drugs, but after the income is not enough, he starts selling his properties and furniture,” Tavakokoli did not mince his words.

Many former officials and the media have expressed deep concerns over the plan. Mohammad Reza Salehi, a logistics chief of former President Hassan Rouhani’s office, in a speech at a meeting of former officials earlier this month argued that the so-called privatization would give rise to massive corruption, degenerate the regime from within and eventually cause its collapse.

Reza Gheibi, an economic journalist, told Iran International that the liquidation of assets would not help the government to overcome the economic crisis it is grappling with. “In the best-case scenario, it may balance some of the budget deficit,” he said, adding that transferring these assets to individuals and entities connected with Khamenei’s office, who would be the likely beneficiaries, would give them control over the economy.

In a tweet last Wednesday (February 1), Iran’s exiled prince, Reza Pahlavi, accused Khamenei of plundering the country’s national wealth “greedily” with the so-called privatization plan. “Plunderers should be aware that legal immunity will not help them, and the plundered assets of the Iranian nation should [one day] be restored to the treasury of the nation,” he wrote.

The shady privatization plan, which is promulgated to improve generation of wealth and production in Iran, has been met with a lot of skepticism by the public, who have seen corrupt “privatization” in the past 15 years, when state properties were sold at ridiculously low prices to well-connected individuals.

The clerical regime – struggling with domestic unrest and grappling with rising inflation on the backdrop of global isolation – is in desperate need of money. People are terrified that the plan is the Islamic Republic’s last-ditch effort to liquidate public assets to keep itself afloat.

Source » iranintl