Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Iran’s Management and Planning Organization to be Dissolved

Last night it was announced suddenly in Tehran that Iran’s Management and Planning Organization (MPO) is to be dissolved[1]. Iran’s Council for Administration Affairs, a body chaired by President Ahmadinegad, passed a motion last night to integrate MPO in Presidential Office as a directorate for Planning and Strategic Supervision, passing the direct supervision of MPO to the President.

This decision has surprised many in Iran, including Mr. Rahbar the first head of MPO in President Ahmadinegad’s administration, who told ISNA[2] that dissolving MPO was not part of agenda in Council for Administration Affairs meeting. Since MPO is in charge of drafting country’s annual budget and five years development plans the first questions asked were in regards to these functions. Mr. Borqaeyi current head of MPO told reporters today that the new directorate for Planning and Strategic Supervision would be drafting the new budget. Mr Borqaeyi himself will head the new office. There is no word yet about drafting the fifth five years development plans.

The decision also emphasizes that MPO functions and organizations must be transferred to the relevant executive bodies. This has already increased the influence of Cabinet and ministries in drafting annual budget, a task that MPO has been carrying out impartially since its establishment.

The decision to dissolve MPO is one of the series of decisions. Last year President Ahmadinegad ordered MPO provincial organizations to be incorporated in provincial governors’ offices. That decision transferred the planning process at the province level to the local authorities and ended the independence of local MPO offices from local governments. In objection to that decision Mr. Rahbar the head of MPO and two deputies resigned their positions.

Government and some members of parliament defend these steps by pointing out that achieving a small government is a goal of Iran’s 2020 vision. The critiques point out that it was for avoiding frictions between executive bodies and ministries that MPO was established in 1948.

In its history MPO has been known for its professionalism, scientific approach and impartiality. Ironically its experts were the first ones to warn Mohammad Reza Pahlavi against his economic policies in 1970’s, forecasting those policies would cause social instability. This earned them his wrath. These experts are not much loved these days either. They have criticized government economic policies and have warned against deviance from the path drawn by Iran’s 2020 vision.
[1] For writing this article I have benefited from Fars News Agency and Baztab websites.
[2] Iran Student News Agency

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