Government supports the proposal by the parliament to separate the ministry of the trade from the ministry of industry and mines
Deputy to the president and head of the Administrative and Recruitment Organization clarified the advantages of the reestablishment of ministry of trade in line with policies of the government
1. Recently there has been a debate between the parliament and the government concerning re-establishment of the trade ministry. Why is this issue of importance in the current situation?
This issue was proposed two years ago and it's not limited to this point at the time. Based on his predictions about the future of the country, the president raised the issue of dividing the ministry just four days after elections two years ago. He was actually planning to designate two ministers of the ministries in the twelfth government. Therefore the double-urgency bill was put forward. Nevertheless, due to the opposition of the majority, the bill was not ratified.
2. Ministry of trade was merged with the ministry of trade and mines in the tenth government. What were the technical reasons behind that?
I don't believe there weren't adequate studies or expertise supporting the decision. At the time the integration of the ministries where proposed I was a member of the consolidation commission. A few members without enough technical grounds suggested the number of ministries should be reduced from 21 to 17. In other words, the commission obligated the government to merge some ministries to achieve downsizing based on an article (53) of the fifth development plan. Consequently, the ministry of housing and urban planning was merged in the ministry of roads and transportation; the ministry of social welfare was merged into the ministry of labor and social affairs and finally the ministry of trade was merged into the ministry of industry and mines. I was against this action at the time since no expert reports were delivered to the commission to justify such measures. Up to this point and based on our studies, the responsibilities and functions of the ministries are not provided and there has only been a formal consolidation and the actual unification has not been realized.
3. In your opinion what challenges are we facing now due to the integration of the two ministries of trade into the ministry of industry and mines?
Expanding the scope of action and an increase in the capacity of the activities as a result of the integration are among the challenges we are facing. I believe the integration has resulted in a ministry that is large, heavy and static. When our trade policies are collected in a productive ministry, the activities are for the most part oriented towards supporting production and domestic production, and a very vital component which is the consumer is ignored. Among the main responsibilities of the old trade, the ministry was to adjust the market, control the prices and support the consumer and also deliver policies that accelerate the mission. This integration has probably had some advantages for the producers and production. However, market control and consumer support have not been adequately achieved.
4. How much do you think the separation of the ministries helps the distribution of necessity goods?
At present, the prices are not in an acceptable situation. In some production fields, not only are the pricing and price control out of the control of the ministry of trade, industry, and mines but also the consumers have no control over it.
5. What do you think are the reasons for the opposition to resist the separation?
I believe they are against merging the two ministries because they are not considering the new conditions we are in and they are comparing the structure with advanced countries where the trade sector is active side by side with the production sector. Based on our studies of 100 countries 10 countries have independent trade ministries and 50 countries have integrated ministries of trade and production. It is observed that in advanced countries the ministry of industry and mine are merged with the ministry of trade. However, due to the situation, we are in because of the sanctions imposed against us by the U.S. has negatively influenced our commercial exchanges ranging from export to import of necessity goods and raw material. On the other hand, we have not been able to achieve the objectives we have set in the field of distribution and trading to relieve the pressure imposed on the weak and needy strata. We have encountered a different situation compared to two years ago. The U.S. has employed many experts to realize its plans, but unfortunately, some of us are still insisting on keeping the status quo. They believe they have to be against the bill because it results in expanding the government.
6. What are the main reasons behind the integration?
As an expert in management development and also a person who has had 20 years experience in this fields I believe there has never been any dysfunction in the old trade ministry and it had always been successful in having an influential role in the market management. Considering the heavy responsibilities of the ministry of industry and mines, the current special economic situation and the necessity to develop special policies to overcome the difficult situation we are facing due to the sanctions, believe the separation will enable us to support the needy and the poor strata better.
7. To what extent do you believe the separation will result in the expansion of the government and its structure?
I have to clarify that based on the obligations put forward by the parliament and comprehensive plan of the modification of administrative system, reduction in human resources is still a necessity for the government. In total, 2 million and 300 civil servants are serving in the government from which 8000 are employed by the ministry of trade, industry, and mines. In addition, no new recruitment had happened when the two ministries were integrated. It is not a just concern that the separation of the two ministries will add to the number of employees since the current employees will continue their service to the government. The costs resulting from the separation are certainly subtle compared to the gains we will achieve. The downsizing objective is still perused in the macro perspective by reducing the size of the government up to 3% in the first year of the plan. Based on the predictions we will reach the 15% reduction in size as defined in article 28 of the sixth development plan by the end of the plan.