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Tavakoli attacks Ahmadinejad administration’s lack of transparency, law breaking

In a speech yesterday before the Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis, Iran’s legislature, representative Ahmad Tavakoli bemoaned the state of Iran’s ailing economy and targeted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration for its economic policies which he said had reduced Iran’s ranking in terms of the ease of doing business from 140 out of 183 in 2011 to 144 in 2012. Tavakoli gave a number of reasons for this sorry state of economic affairs, including the Ahmadinejad administration non-compliance with the law.

He raised the 2012-2013 budget law as an illustration of the presidential administration’s law-breaking. According to Tavakoli, the executive’s orders to various implementing bodies for the 2012-2013 budget were accompanied by a letter saying that certain aspects of the budget are unconstitutional, thereby giving a pretext for not implementing the budget law. He asserted that not only was this not within the executive’s authority, with the main prerogative for reviewing the constitutionality of the budget resting with the Guardian Council, but that certain officials in the Economic Reform Working Group had already used this as a pretext to revise the budget and break the law.

At this point in Tavakoli’s speech Ali Larijani, speaker of the Majlis, interrupted Tavakoli to support his assertion by saying that:

“No one in the government has the right to review the budget law. Just as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has said, the budget law has no appeal.”

Tavakoli continued his attack on the Ahmadinejad administration for its alleged disregard for the law by also pointing to its financial profligacy. He maintained that the executive had already spent all of the $550 billion in income during its first and second term (2005-2009 and 2009-2012 respectively) and emptied the billions of dollars in the Foreign Exchange Reserve (FER), and that the president now had his sight set on the billions inside the National Development Fund (NDF). He expressed his fear that because the board of directors of the NDF was packed with Ahmadinejad appointments, the money inside the fund would soon be in the hands of the executive branch.

He also decried the lack of accurate economic statistics by the administration, citing it as another example of Ahmadinejad’s law breaking and poor economic management. For example, Tavakoli said that the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) had not released a new balance sheet alongside certain other key economic and financial statistics since 2007, and that the latest economic statistics in other areas were from 2010. He said that the Ahmadinejad administration should not criticize parliamentarians for their use of statistics from organizations such as the World Bank, because the executive’s failure to provide accurate statistics as mandated by law forced them to rely on outside data.