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September 2017, No. 85


Economy

Calls for Depoliticization of Economic Decisions


Policy makers are risk takers and taking risk is the essence of their job. On the contrary, market and capital are very cautious and risk averse, disinclined toward taking systematic risks.


Dr. Masoud Nili, Senior Economist

Referring to six major problems Iran is grappling with, top presidential advisor, Masoud Nili, has called for removing resentment in politics, depoliticizing the economy and politicians making fewer public speeches, in a write-up published in the local media.

A translation of this article follows:

I will go straight to the list of problems the country is currently wrestling with:

1. The increasing pressure of unemployment on the economy, the limited capacity available for creating jobs, the unprecedented decline in the income of urban and rural households during the Iranian years 1386 (March 2007-8) to 1392 (March 2013-14), the formidable task of fixing this condition in the medium term, problems associated with pension funds, banking system as well as environmental issues and water crisis are super challenges glued to the future of this country, which can only be resolved with patience and prudence. This is while the traditional solution to most of the country’s problems, that is “oil revenues”, has lost its edge.

2. Unlike the second half of the 1990s and first half of the 2000s, the world is facing growing uncertainties. Domestic security of countries has never, in living memory, been this fragile. The United States under Trump is turning into a player that flouts accepted global rules. On the one hand, predictions are that China is winding down as the world’s major driver of growth in energy demand. On the other hand, following the financial recession of 2008, banks have become more cautious and stricter, and this has translated into more restrictions for Iran’s banking system. All in all, opportunities to tap into global resources have become fewer and less secure compared with 15 to 20 years ago.

3. Regional conflicts in the Middle East are now more serious and their consequences are more damaging and profound, thanks to the self-styled Islamic State terrorists.

4. On the social stage, the eight-year moratorium on job creation between 2005 and 2013 coincided with the flood of working age population to the market. Major issues, including late marriage, youth depression and addiction, divorce, crimes and misdemeanors, and other social problems have gripped the country and are about to stay.

5. Over the last decade, the country has moved toward depriving itself of the human capital of talented executive management. Domestic political events led to the weakening of the country’s managerial competence. Today, it is almost impossible to find a qualified individual who is capable of management at a senior position.

6. Reflection of the above points in different provinces when we consider poverty and unemployment of educated youth as well as water crisis and dust storms presents a very alarming picture.

Logically speaking, it is immensely difficult to reach a favorable condition even if all powers in the country work in unity and in a peaceful environment. But unfortunately, what we see in the behavior of policymakers is far from what the country needs.

In my point of view, the most effective policymakers at national and provincial levels pay little attention to the fact that they are beside their opponents in a single ship. They have forgotten about the basics that guarantee the safety of the ship, jeopardizing not only themselves but also the wise and patient Iranian people. I humbly propose three approaches that should be the basis for the policies of political groups. 

First: Removing Resentment in Politics 

Politics incorporate a difference of opinions. Therefore, the principle of dissimilarity of ideas is inevitable in politics. What is of more importance is the approach we take to bridge these differences. When political differences take on ideological dimensions, political fights incline toward violence. Politics is not a fighting pit; rather it is a stage for competition, just like a football pitch where rivals are competitors, not enemies. A football match needs a referee and above that rules and regulations. High-risk behaviors have been defined for the game. The two teams are not intent on destroying each other. A lawless political scene in Iran will drag the country toward violence and this would swallow “everyone” like a quagmire. 

Second: Depoliticization of Economy 

Policy makers are risk takers and taking risk is the essence of their job. On the contrary, market and capital are very cautious and risk averse, disinclined toward taking systematic risks. If the economy was politics’ tenant, it would get complacent about everyday affairs, knowing the fact that it might receive eviction notice any time. This has nothing to do with working out solutions for major present or future problems of the country. 

Third: Making Fewer Public Speeches 

Perhaps less countries can be found in this vast world where delivering speeches is so important and where speech functions as an institution! Most of the materials that are necessary to be discussed in the decision-making meetings and behind policy-making tables, are expressed through different tribunes. The oral literature and the monologue approach vis-à-vis the written culture and dialogue approach, have occupied a large space of ineffective political communications in our country and it seems that no change is in the offing. In short, what are heard and seen of the people at the polls and in gatherings and national demonstrations are seeking peace, calm, security, dignity and national pride; but unfortunately, what are heard from the tribunes and speeches are argument, malice and the use of unpeaceful language for the expression of subjects that are not necessary to be expressed in public tribunes. This approach not only would fail in solving the problems, but by creating discord among the active mind of the society would add to the number of problems. In such circumstances, trust in the policy-maker and confidence in the future of the country would be weakened. The end of the word; it is time for all powers effective in the administration of the country to make efforts for solving major problems and avoid going into margins and as interpreted from the poem of Hafez, the Tongue of the Hidden, “Get involved in something that will remove grief”.

 

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