Iran General NewsIran planning chief resigns over Ahmadinejad changes

Iran planning chief resigns over Ahmadinejad changes

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AFP: Iran’s planning organisation chief has resigned after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to tighten government control of its budget, Iranian media reported on Thursday. by Aresu Eqbali

TEHRAN, Nov 16, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s planning organisation chief has resigned after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to tighten government control of its budget, Iranian media reported on Thursday.

Farhad Rahbar, who also loses his title as a vice president, was replaced by Amir Mansour Borghei, a top official at the energy ministry, the student news agency ISNA reported.

The move comes after Ahmadinejad’s controversial decision in October to shake up the agency by increasing the authority of the organisation’s provincial agencies over its budget allocations.

The step was aimed at tightening government control over regional planning. Provincial planning agencies must now answer to local governors — who answer to the interior ministry — rather than the planning organisation.

Ahmadinejad’s decision has already sparked the resignation of three directors and some 20 mid-ranking officials at the organisation over fears its independence would be compromised under the new structure, media have reported.

“Two of Rahbar’s deputies have left and their positions have not yet been filled in. That could be one of the reasons for Rahbar’s resignation,” the organisation’s spokesman Fazlolah Mirzavand was quoted as saying by ISNA.

The organisation’s current priority is to work on next year’s budget and the wrangling has made recent discussions over its priorities “fruitless”, Mirzavand said.

Rahbar, who had served in the position in the previous reformist government, was said to be at odds with the president’s decision and even asked Ahmadinejad to reconsider the move.

The new head Amir Mansour Borghei has served — like Ahmadinejad — in Iran’s elite ideological army, the Revolutionary Guards, the ISNA agency said.

Borghei has also served “for a while in Lebanon”, ISNA added, without clarifying his duties there.

The shake-up of the organisation had already drawn criticism from both conservative and reformist quarters, who argued that giving the budget authority to local agencies would disrupt the country’s macroeconomic plans.

The drastic change is believed to be giving Ahmadinejad, who has made known his ambitious plans of “spreading justice” in the undeveloped parts of the country, a freer hand in economic planning.

Since coming to power in 2005, Ahmadinejad has made substantial changes in top-ranking positions in key government departments such as the interior, foreign and oil ministries.

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