Candidates round up economic debates

May 12, 2017

TEHRAN - Six presidential candidates of Iran rounded up their presidential debates with a hot economic debate cast live on the national TV on Friday evening.

During the show that lasted more than 3 hours, Hassan Rouhani and Es’haq Jahangiri defended their performance as president and first vice president in the incumbent government, while Ebrahim Raisi, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and Mostafa Mirsalim criticized them and spoke about their preferred plans as potential future president.

Mostafa Hashemi Tabam acted differently, taking the middle ground. 

Qalibaf said that if made president, he will increase the country’s income 2.5 times. He added that he will also create 1.2 million jobs for villagers per year. 

Hashemi Taba, for his part, said his first objective would be to preserve the Iranian land, meaning its natural resources. For that, he said, the modernization of agriculture would precede all other options, even industrial development.

Hashemi Taba further said that he will also prioritize export-oriented production, attracting foreign investment, and refurbishing the banking system. He also expressed disappointment in the fact that according to official reports, goods are smuggled into Iran from 114 officially managed docks.

Raisi chided the incumbent government for failing to make good economic progress. He also criticized the government to have come too late to the aide of economically fragile individuals.

Recent aides that the government has started to give to the lower economic strata come only as part of a presidential campaign rather than genuine intentions, else they should have been done during the past four years of the government’s tenure, Raisi said.

Rouhani, for his part, said in order to prevent smuggling, free trade should be encouraged, backed by economic transparency. The government is proud to have opened the gates to export, he said, noting that his government “clawed back Iran’s OPEC share from Saudi Arabia”.

He also added that to encourage production, the 11th administration increased banks’ assets twofold and provided banking facilities to 24,000 businesses. Rouhani also made an important announcement about the cash handouts, saying his potential future does not have any plan to discard them, but will continue to pay them as before.

Jahangiri also defended his respective government’s performance. He said the government has diminished outstanding banking debts from 15.1 to 10 percent. He also said there is a plan for the future government to implement a countrywide banking plan where banks will turn into the country’s number one aides behind production and investment.

According to Jahangiri, during last Iranian fiscal year (which ended March 20), Iran signed contracts over $10 billion foreign investment, $3 billion of which has already been settled.

Mirsalim, for his part, said that the incumbent government has failed the economy for four years. “Production has suffered a four-year damage,” he said, expressing grief over mismanagement in the production sector.

He also censured the banking system, saying to Rouhani, “Some of your men have shares in banks.” Mirsalim also said that selling crude oil damages the country, stressing that the government should treat crude oil inside the country and sell the products with added value instead.

SP/AK

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