Iran has extended its outdated development plan for the third time since 2021, as the parliament has refused to approve the new plan by the Raisi administration.
The old document, the 6th Development Plan, was to be implemented between 2016 and 2021, but many parts of it have remained untouched as the government lacked the appropriate resources due to a catalogue of foreign policy and economic problems.
The latest extension of the old plan gives the Iranian government time to catch up with what it has not been able to accomplish during the past seven years. Experts, however, say it is unlikely that the administration, known for its inefficiency,would be able to improve its performance in the next two years. They say the old plan might even be extended for another two years when the Majles reviews the government's performance in about six months from now.
According to former presidential candidate Mostafa Hashemitaba, in the meantime, the government has either to amend the 7th Development Plan, which is by no means acceptable to the parliament, or to come up with new plan to present to the Majles.
According to Hashemitaba, only 20 to 25 percent of the 6th plan has been implemented during the past seven years. He added in an article in the reformist Shargh daily that the 7th plan is simply a "booklet put together by the government" and that "it has nothing to do with the country's future and its people's livelihood. Hashemi Taba further charged that it makes no difference for the officials which direction the country's economy will take as a result of not having a real development plan in hand.
He said those who have drafted the plan either do not know anything about the country's situation or pretend not to know about pressing issues. "When the priorities are forgotten, what comes next is destruction," Hashemitaba said, adding that "what the officials are doing is giving a coat of paint to a building on the verge of collapse."
Meanwhile, reformist commentator Abbas Abdi wrote in a commentary in the reformist Etemad newspaper that Iran's economy heavily relies on state subsidies and the government cannot implement any practical policy as long as it cannot liberalize the prices of bread, fuel and energy because it fears the re-emergence of protests that have taken place in Iran since 2018.
Abdi wrote the government is constantly manipulating the prices of these three items and continues to allocate subsidies to them sometimes selling what it buys at a higher price to the people at a lower subsidized price. However, he pointed out that current rise in the price of bread in Iran cannot be defended, as it puts more pressure on the lower strata of the population. The government's only solution is to rebuild the people's trust in the government and that is difficult.
Hashemitaba also pointed out in his article that the Iranian government has stated at various points that it needs to make tough decisions, meaning to increase the prices of essential commodities, but every time, it took backs down and manipulates the markets without cutting the subsidies.
In another development, Iranian journalist, women's rights activist, and reformist politician Zahra Nejad-Bahram wrote in Etemad newspaper, criticizing the government for treating development plans as perfunctory documents and instead, handling affairs of state on a day to day basis.
She pointed out that the 6th Development Plan is too outdated, it has already been extended twice, and another extension of it will be beneficial. She questioned how an outdated plan could meet the country's future needs. Nejad-Bahram maintained: "Perhaps the officials believe Iran does not need a new development plan!"