More than two months after taking office as the new hard-line president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) has completed building his key economic team.
In mid-October he appointed Ali Salehabadi as governor of the Iranian central bank, Majid Eshghi as chairman of the stock exchange and Davoud Manzour as head of the tax department.
The official news agency said in an October 15 report that the occupation is not yet complete as there are still some positions vacant on the team, although these are not key positions.
Most of Raisi’s economic officials have either a previous military background or are various types of officials, none with extensive government or private economic experience.
Mohammad Mokhber, a key member of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Financial Foundation, is First Vice President. Its main role is to coordinate matters between different cabinet ministers. Massoud Mirkazemi, an advisor to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the head of the planning and budget organization. Farhad Rahbar, a former economic officer in the Ministry of Intelligence, is Raisi’s assistant for economic affairs, and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei is vice president of economics.
First Vice President Mohammad Mokber. FILE PHOTO
Rezaei recently issued a lengthy directive to all economic officials and cabinet ministers that turned out to be nothing more than proposing the sale of oil for food and other staples in order to circumvent U.S. sanctions, which could only work if Iran’s potential trading partners are in danger run, secondary penalties.
Aside from Rezaei, who has never held a position remotely related to economic affairs, the other members of President Raisi’s economic team come mainly from Khamenei’s office and financial foundation, or from the administration of the sacred shrine in Mashhad, where they meet with Raisi. worked together when he was superintendent for about two years. Otherwise no one has had leadership experience in government, where they have to be more or less responsible for their performance.
Raisi’s officials are not used to controls and balance sheets and the relative transparency of government affairs compared to unaccountable financial institutions, which operate in parallel and sometimes completely separate from the government, pay no taxes, and their operations are not scrutinized by Parliament and the State Audit Office.
Raisi’s economic advisor Mohsen Rezaei.
These traits are also shared by the eight ministers in Raisi’s economic cabinet, including Industry, Mining and Trade Minister Reza Fatemi Amin, whose main role was previously the investment manager of the administration of the sacred shrine.
The high point in Labor Minister Hojjatollah Abdolmaleki’s career is working in the office of the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, a pseudo-charity that operates under the aegis of Khamenei’s office and does various business unrelated to the charity or Khomeini.
Oil Minister Javad Owji’s former job as Deputy Oil Minister is not the only job he’s known for. The 2010s press reports said he had traded oil for gold to circumvent the sanctions. Rostam Ghasemi street and town planning was also involved and was temporarily brought to trial for investigations into the illegal oil trade under Ahmadinejad. On the other hand, Ahmadinejad’s Industry and Trade Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian, convicted of piracy and infringement of an innovator’s patent rights, is now Raisi’s Minister of Energy.
Very little is known to the public about the track record of Communications and ITC Minister Isa Zarepour and Agriculture Minister Javad Sadatinejad.
Ehsan Khandouzi, Minister for Economic Affairs, has little chance of serious work under the contradicting influences of Mokhber and Rezaei. Khandouzi and Mirkazemi are the two top officials who need to tackle the longstanding problems of high inflation, low employment and a budget deficit of over 50 percent, not to mention the problem of a tarnished currency.
Meanwhile, Mirkazemi also has the task of correcting the country’s budget system, which means depriving powerful religious institutions of large budgets that they get when they do nothing for the economy. This turns some of Raisi’s supporters into critics.
The keyword to any success for Raisi’s business team is “coordination”. A task that is difficult to accomplish, partly because of the differences between Raisi’s top officials and partly because of the sudden ad hoc orders from Raisi himself, without consulting someone when they have serious problems.