By Pooya Stone
“Several people think that the country had rapidly moved toward development in the monarchic era, but intellectuals prevented the government from achieving its economic goals… These people may not know that the developing of consumption and distributing money would not result in a real development—a modern industrial society— in a non-developed society.”
This is a clause of a prominent interpreter Daryoush Ashouri who worked at the Planning and Budget Organization of Iran during the Shah’s tenure. In his book titled “Memories of the Planning and Budget Organization at the Shah’s time,” he highlighted a number of reasons for the monarchic regime’s failures in the economic aspect.
“The Shah had a problem in understanding the sophisticated concept of development and its methods… The Shah imagined that he could purchase economic development with financial power, but he was negligent over other respects of the issue,” he wrote.
Subsequently, Ashouri narrated that “the Shah became upset and left the meeting” when he heard economists’ warnings and concerns about “money-spraying” in the society. “Then he summoned the organization chief Majidi and threatened him. “I seal the organization if [your] economists reiterated these words,” the Shah had said.
According to familiar experts, defective implementation of five developing plans amplified economic crises and paved the way for the 1979 revolution in Iran. All the while, the clerics not only did not refine the country’s economic sectors but also show many disastrous performances in this era. For instance, they have handled six defective developing plans so far.
Why Developing Plans Remain Fruitless in Iran?
There are enormous reasons to prove the insufficiency of the government and principal defects in economic plans. “It seems that regardless of passing three decades from the country’s developing plans, there is not a complete consensus among officials over the manners of planning and implementing them. The stats show that goals of the first, second, third, and fourth development plans have not yet been achieved,” said a government-linked expert in an interview with Shahrvand daily on June 25, 2016.
“False predicting and miscalculating the goals may be the first reason for non-achieving the plans’ desires. Several experts described some of these goals unreal,” the expert added.
In this context, the Majlis (Parliament) Research Center has not recognized the sixth developing plan as an economic plan. This body has described the “plan” as an “innovation” due to its “principal and basic defects,” “the lack of figures and charts,” “non-specifying the priorities and disproportion between permissions and economic crises.”
The codification of industrial strategy is one of the most critical parts of each country’s planning task. Contrary to its name, this issue comprehensively responds to the most significant dilemmas and sets the best orientation and proper methods for developing the country.
According to state-link economists, the government had not planned or implemented any industrial strategy so far. Therefore, no one knew what the government must have done with huge oil, gas, and petrochemical incomes. Worse, no one knows how did the government spend or stockpiled this asset? Of course, on May 20, former chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh revealed that Iran had granted $20-30 billion to Syria.
Meanwhile, Iranian authorities try to style the “strategical plan for the industry and mines” as the “industrial strategy for development.” However, they are two different concepts and documents with different results. The codification of a strategic document for industrial development needs politicians’ will and determination to develop the country.
The manner of making industrial relations with the world is the most important criterion for industrializing a country. Notably, the industrialization is not synonymous with forming and having enormous factories. In this respect, a country must be industrialized in all aspects, including political affairs.
For instance, the related government should have an interactive foreign policy. Inside the country, it cannot monopolize all means of power. It should also define the technological orientations and manage micro-level financial firms and holdings across the country.
The Strategy of Survival
Over the past four decades, Iranian rulers not only did not implement basic principles and methods for developing the country but also their catastrophic functions put Iran’s industry on the verge of collapse. In this respect, the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) spent billions of dollars on expansionist policies in the Middle East region rather than resolving the country’s economic dilemmas.
Based on official stats, today, the rest of Iran’s population has met unbridled poverty and many families struggle not to fall below the misery line. Every day, the national currency is devaluating against the U.S. dollar and other foreign exchanges. The social gap is constantly deepening between rich classes—including officials and their relatives—with middle and low-income society classes.
“Today, we need a strategy for exiting this status quo. It would be a strategical mistake if we consider that we can step the development path, investment in the private sector, and interactive communications with the world, through the U.S. returning to the JCPOA, Iran nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and lifting restrictions,” quoted Donya-e Eghtesad daily Massoud Nili, a former aide of President Hassan Rouhani, as saying on September 12.
“Is there any institution, whether in private, public, or research sectors, can tell how we should exit these conditions? I believe that the country’s problems and obstacles would remain even if foreign sanctions be lifted. Statistics declare that since 2008, our GDP per capita had stopped. In the past ten years, the investing growth was negative. The government faces a massive budget deficit. We had never met such an accumulation of dilemmas in the past. The country’s priority must be finding a way for exiting these conditions,” he added.
These facts flagrantly show that the Iranian government has spent all its strategic preserves and today suffers from a
lack of an appropriate response to breathtaking dilemmas across the country. On the other hand, authorities cannot leave their tribble policies in the region and across the globe. Instead, they try to cover up their domestic weakness with hollow ambitions abroad.
However, nowadays, Iranian authorities face a complete stalemate as a result of 41 years of mismanagement and corruption, as well as suppressing the people’s grievances and exporting terrorism. In such circumstances, the ayatollahs must change themselves and their irresponsible policies or be changed by fed-up citizens, who frequently criticize high-ranking officials, including the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, for their luxury lives. The second path, of course, is closer to reality.