Entrepreneurs Awarded Amin al-Zarb Awards Former Majlis Speaker Criticizes Privatization Process

(Tuesday, January 14, 2020) 10:27

Entrepreneurs, business owners and state officials met on Monday to mark the fourth Amin al-Zarb Awards ceremony, organized by the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture at which a former parliamentary speaker criticized the privatization policy.

The Amin al-Zarb Badge (named after a merchant and philanthropist who founded the TCCIM 136 years ago) is given to leading entrepreneurs and thinkers in recognition of their contribution to the economy. 

The event, hosted by the TCCIM at Tehran's Vahdat Hall aimed to celebrate lifetime achievements in manufacturing and entrepreneurship, and recognize individuals whose roles have made a difference and contributed to economic progress. 

The ceremony was attended by more than 500 entrepreneurs, economists and officials. Some of the attendees addressed the audience. 

As expected, the central idea of their speeches was on the challenges that are undermining the economy and the need to mobilize and move forward in harmony, news outlets reported.

Among the keynote speakers were Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the former Majlis speaker and former head of the inspection bureau at the office of the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and the TCCIM chief Masoud Khansari.   

Nateq-Nouri, who also is a member of the powerful Expediency Council, criticized the flaws in the privatization process and in reducing the government’s role in the economy. The process has failed to produce the desired results, he complained. 

 

Distorted Process 

“Privatization indeed was not put into practice as was intended,” he said, adding that whatever had been done under the banner of privatization “was more harmful than a fully government controlled and centralized economy”. 

He pointed the tenets of Article 44 of the Constitution, saying its provisions had been largely distorted.  Article 44 compartmentalizes the economy into three parts, namely public, cooperative and the private. It obliges the government to transfer 80% of the shares of state-owned and affiliated companies to nongovernment entities. 

Improper enforcement of privatization rules has drawn strong criticism from across the board because most big companies privatized so far were bought by quasi-state organizations and vested interests apparently because the real private sector could not afford to buy.

The senior cleric was alluding to the policies of past and present governments regarding divestiture of state and government owned companies to organizations and/or individuals affiliated to the ruling establishment in some form or fashion. 

“As such, in a centralized economy all entities are controlled and supervised by the government, and the [so-called] semi-privatized system paves the way for misuse”.

 

Award Recipients 

Amin al-Zarb Award was granted to eight recipients. 

Soheila Torabi Farsani, an economic researcher,  Alinaqi Mashayekhi, economist, Milad Monshipour, an official with Tap30 (the second ride-hailing app) and former alumni of Sharif University of Technology were among the recipients. 

The awards were given also to three founders, namely Nasrolla Izadpanah, founder of Alborz Steel Industries, Mehdi Khanmohammadi, founder of Sahar Bread Industrial Group and Nooradin Noorbakhsh, founder of Damdaran Company (a major dairy industry). 

Amin al-Zarb’s statuette was granted to Davood Abedi Amoli and Ali Salek Nejati as two top entrepreneurs. 

The prize is named after Mohammad Hassan Isfahani (famous as Amin al-Zarb or treasurer), an immensely influential Iranian businessman who was a pioneer in trade with other nations and has many accomplishments to his name.  

His son, Mohammad Hossein Amin al-Zarb, followed his father’s example and is known as a pioneer in bringing electricity to Iran. 

He founded the Assembly of Merchants in 1926, which later morphed into what is now the Tehran Chamber of Commerce. He was the director of the influential chamber since its establishment and up to his death in 1932.