Iran's parliament, Majles, is at loggerheads with the government of President Ebrahim Raisi over its controversial development plan that is seen as lacking clarity. 

According to a Tehran newspaper, some lawmakers have reportedly been calling on Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf to return the bill to the economic committee for further review. They told reporters that lawmakers have serious concerns about the plan's economic implications for the country.

Iran draws up multi-year economic development plans as a guide for both the executive branch and also for the parliament that must examine and approve annual budgets.

The lawmakers also said that Ghalibaf has told the "country's high officials," meaning Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the Islamic Republic's jargon, that although the budget committee has made some changes in the plan, it still cannot be approved because it is deficient. 

Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf (center) during a session in July 2023

Earlier, former Minister of Economy Mehdi Karbasian had warned: "The 7th Development Plan cannot be implemented because of the inefficiency of the Raisi administration's officials. Also, Iranian economist Farshad Momeni had called the development plan drawn up by the Raisi's government as "strange and delirious." He had said that the plan lacked any clear logic. Another economist, Ali Ghanbari told Khabar Online website that the 7th Development Plan has been written in a perfunctory way.

Mohamad-Reza Pourebrahimi, the chairman of the parliament's Economic Committee told the daily, "We cannot approve parts of the plan. And we are not sure that all additions to the original text of the plan have been made by the Budget Committee." He added: "We are seriously critical of the plan and are preparing a letter to the Speaker of the Majles demanding another round of review by the committees before starting the final debate about it at the parliament. 

Asked about the problematic parts of the Development Plan, Pourebrahimi said, "It is not clear in the plan how the government will fund major parts of the plan from." He added, "The government has not provided us with information, and there are parts of the plan that contradict the Constitutional Law. All of this should have been made clear in the report presented by the Budget Committee." He further added: "In its current shape, the plan is illegal." 

Mohammad-Reza Pourebrahimi, the chairman of the parliament's Economic Committee

Meanwhile, Mojtaba Yousefi, a lawmaker from Ahvaz and a member of the Majles Presidium explained to Donya-ye Eqtesad that "It is natural for the Majles to change parts of the plan presented by the government. But we see that changes have been made to the Budget Committee's attestations and we do not know who made the changes." He further explained that these changes should not impose further economic commitments on the government. 

Yousefi said: "Development plans are meant to determine the outlook for the country's development within the next five years and certain ministries are not supposed to change an existing law in order to serve demands by some." Yousefi's statement indicated that some of the "illegal" changes have been made by the government. He added that "most of what has been illegally added to the plan were done by the government after the initial review."

Rahim Zare, a member of the Budget Committee of the Majles suggested that part of the changes made by the government are meant to mend its annual budget in violation of the law. He added that in its current shape, the plan is not consistent with the situation of Iranian businesses and the economic difficulties they currently face. 

Zare said: "The government has failed to address the plan's serious shortcomings in the areas of finance, banking and matters relating to businesses, trade and economy."

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