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Saturday, August 23, 2008
Assembly of Experts to study economic reform plan: Rafsanjani
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN – Assembly of Experts Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday said the assembly plans to study the government’s economic reform plan in its upcoming summit.
In a sermon at Friday prayers, Rafsanjani said the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan should focus on resolving the country’s problems with the help of expert views and cooperation between the government and Majlis.
The Ahmadinejad administration has devised an economic reform plan which calls for paying subsides for various products directly to people.
The plan has been prepared to reduce an excessive waste of the country’s resources especially in using energy, and to ensure that low-income families pay fewer taxes.
The government’s economic policy has pushed inflation close to 26 percent by injecting large sums of cash into the economy to fund local infrastructure projects.
Rafsanjani said the assembly also plans to discuss the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
He said implementing infrastructure projects should be a top priority in the Five-Year Development Plan.
Rafsanjani, who also chairs the Expediency Council, said after the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war the Islamic Republic launched a reconstruction program which helped resolve infrastructure problems in the country.
Rafsanjani, who president from 1989 to 1997, criticized the current government for its failure to properly supply electricity and water to citizens.
The government blames drought for daily power outage in Iran which has become an order of the day. The administration has defined an electricity rationing program, imposing a two-hour daily blackout in rural and urban areas.
Some regions are also suffering daily cuts in water supply.
“During the Reconstruction period, Iran did not suffer from electricity and gas cuts. Although we underwent several droughts during those years; they did not cause sever damages because we had already saved enough water,” Rafsanjani stated.
“We also made considerable progress in building dam, silo, highway, bridge, port, and refinery. We built the Phase II of Bandar Abbas refinery. If this had continued on the same path we could have made remarkable progress in producing petrol,” he lamented.
Turning to Iran’s nuclear program, Rafsanjani accused the Western powers of inventing pretexts against Iran’s peaceful nuclear drive as part of efforts to undermine the Islamic system.
“Iran needs to develop nuclear energy because its energy supplies are exhausting. Today some countries are using fossil fuel which damages the environment therefore it is important to use alternative sources of energy,” he stressed.
The United Nations has so far imposed three rounds of sanctions on the Islamic Republic for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
Iran insists its atomic activities are solely peaceful and that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty it has the right to access civilian nuclear technology