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Iran's Rohani Says International Isolation Harming Economy

January 04, 2015

Iran's president has said his country cannot have 'sustainable' economic growth as long as it is internationally isolated.

During a televised speech to leading economists on January 4, Hassan Rohani said 'we can't have sustainable growth while we are isolated.'

He also called for reduced state involvement in the economy and greater transparency in order to end Iran's international isolation.

'Our economy will not prosper as long as it is monopolized [by the government],' he said, adding that increased competition is needed.

Rohani also said the economy must 'be transparent' so that 'we can fight corruption.'

The speech was seen as criticism of conservatives who supported the unpredictable economic policies of Rohani's predecessor, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and powerful economic interests connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Rohani praised lawmakers for adopting in December a measure that would tax organizations overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the military.

Rohani, who was elected in 2013 as a moderate who would reduce confrontation with the West, urged parliament -- which is dominated by conservatives -- to adopt economic reforms and improved taxation.

He said that if lawmakers fail to act, he would consider holding a national referendum.

'As the enforcer of our constitution, I would like -- even just once -- to see conditions ripe for the implementation of a tenet of the fundamental law (the constitution) calling for major economic, social, political, and cultural issues to be put to a public referendum,' Rohani said.

He said that provision of the constitution has never been used.

In December, the government presented a 'tight' budget that takes into account current oil prices of $50 to $60 a barrel. The budget for the fiscal year ending in March was based on oil at $100 a barrel.

That budget, however, forecasts increased revenues based on projected increases in nonoil exports and more efficient taxation.

Iran is currently involved in talks with world powers aimed at regulating Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

Those talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany -- will resume in Geneva on January 15. They are aimed at achieving a political agreement by March and a comprehensive settlement by the end of June.

Iran denies allegations that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

Source: isolation-harming-growth/26775960.html

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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