For the second time in less than a month the Iranian parliament’s presidium has stopped a motion to impeach one of President Ebrahim Raisi’s economic ministers.
Criticism of ministers come mainly from within the conservative camp that supports Raisi and his administration. However, the dissent among economic and industrial leaders is so loud that even conservative lawmakers cannot ignore it.
On December 28, dozens of lawmakers tabled a motion to impeach populist Labor Minister Hojjat Abdolmaleki but Majles Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf stopped the motion and called on lawmakers to give the minister another six months to tackle rising unemployment and create jobs for young Iranians.
On January 13, tens of Iranian lawmakers tabled another motion to impeach Industry Minister Reza Fatemi Amin for failing to stand by his promises including making Iranian-made cars cheaper and boosting their quality. Although only 10 lawmakers need to sign an impeachment motion, nearly fifty lawmakers signed. Nonetheless, the Majles (parliament) presidium refused to acknowledge the receipt of the motion, stopping the impeachment for the time being, said Lotfollah Siahkali a member of the Industry Committee of the Majles.
According to Siahkali, although Amin's supporters are lobbying at the Majles to prevent the minister's impeachment, tens of Iranian lawmakers are adamant to have the minister impeached as he has failed to convince the parliament about resolving shortcomings in his ministry's performance in the areas of automobile manufacturing and mining., both largely controlled by the government.
Both of Raisi ministers have multiple sectors to cover, yet they have not been observed to attend to the needs of any one of their areas of responsibility. Abdolmaleki, a populist character with controversial ideas about making Lamborghini cars in Iran and turning Iran into the world's biggest economic power on the condition of boosting its population to 150 million, is officially the Minister of Labor, Cooperatives and Welfare, and in charge of tens of companies and institutions including the country's Pension Fund.
Amin's official title is the Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade. However, he is a modest man who has not been seen making outlandish claims.
Abdolmaleki had promised to create jobs at the cost of ten million rials each (around $40) but recently backtracked and said that his ministry is not in charge of creating jobs although he insisted that creating every job does not cost more than 40 dollars.
One of the reasons for the impeachment of industry minister Amin is an 18-percent rise in the price of Iranian made autos within a matter of weeks after President Raisi called for controlling car prices. Amin supported the price rise, arguing that the increase in car prices is less than half of the inflation rate in Iran. The annual inflation rate is around 45 percent.
Siahkali said that what the Minister claims to be an 18-percent rise is not accurate and in fact the price rise is much more than that, however, he did not give an accurate figure. The lawmaker added that "while the real price of Iranian made cars is less than $10,000, the government that owns or controls all of the factories, sells them for $20,000. The buyers are unhappy about this. The president is unhappy. Even the car makers are unhappy. So, the minister should explain why he has doubled car prices."
Siahkali said he was ready to take back his call for impeachment if the ministry returns car prices to what they were before. "Otherwise, we will insist on the impeachment and I am sure the impeachment will happen before the end of [the Iranian] year,” in late March, he said.