PEJOURNAL – We have approached Mr. “Rostam Ghasemi” to ask questions to review the various dimensions of his personality, record and plans as someone who considers himself qualified to accept the responsibility of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The details of this conversation are as follows:
I think since you have talked less with the media so far, it is better to have a brief introduction of yourself first.
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. I have been working for a long time in the field of construction in different parts of Iran as areas that are basically the driving force of the country, such as industry, mining, housing and energy. In areas that, if they emerge from the recession, the rest of the country’s economic wagons will surely run.
Just in the days after the war between Iran and Iraq, before I entered the Ministry of Oil, I was active in the construction sector and as the commander of the Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters for many years. After the war, we were able to implement the country’s super-plans in various fields without the help and presence of foreigners.
How can this approach have a direct effect on people’s economic lifestyle?
You see, I had an experience during my time in the Ministry of Oil that I think can be a good guide. During the period of sanctions, foreigners were present in our country’s oil industry, both upstream and downstream, and we had a lot of affiliations. I can claim that we were able to remove those external dependencies and essentially neutralize the sanctions.
Today, unemployment, inflation and commodity prices are important issues in the country that have created challenges.
In order to solve the problems of the executive branch of the country, which is to pay attention to the people’s table, we have to figure out great things that, unfortunately, have not been taken into account in the past, especially in recent years.
If the country is not fundamentally prosperous, that is, there is a recession in the country that exists. When there is no new employment, there is no purchasing power and the factory has no production advantage. These are interconnected chains that must take their own steps to solve these problems.
If I want to talk about employment, according to the available statistics and also according to Covid19, it is absolutely terrible. I would like to say that it is really possible to increase employment so much that the unemployment rate becomes very low.
It is necessary for the country to prosper in order to know the current situation of the country. In the field of mining, statistics show that about 20% of the country’s employment can be in this field. What percentage of it can be in agriculture? Abundant! In the field of housing, if you build one million housing a year, how much can it create employment? These are people’s economic lifestyle.
The main current problems of the country are in internal management. Some also attribute most of these problems to existing problems in foreign relations and mostly due sanctions. What approach will you take in the next four years in foreign relations?
I do not oppose the development of foreign relations in any way, but I also know the necessity. However, the country needs foreign relations. In the first step, we need to have good relations with our neighbors. According to available statistics, our trade balance with our neighboring countries is $ 1,200 billion.
What percentage of this do you think we have been able to absorb? If we could raise 5%, it would be about $ 60 billion. This means that if, according to the available statistics, Iran’s non-oil exports are about 25 billion, we have been able to absorb less than three percent of the trade balance of neighboring countries. This is terrible.
What is the economic and export situation in our region, especially after the events in Syria and the Levant?
We helped Syria and Iraq to fight terrorism, and we removed this ISIS from the ground. In fact, we provided security for our country abroad while helping the oppressed people of the region. But we also created capacities. That means we also gained a market.
But the economic context of the presence in the countries of the region is in the hands of the government. The government must provide the necessary ground. That is, when an Iranian businessman wants to invest and work in Iraq and Syria, he naturally has to guarantee its export guarantee fund.
Our exports to these countries should not be supermarkets, but should be intertwined economic relations that cannot change much even with policy changes, and this is possible. Of course, we are the first exporter to Iraq today. Although our exports to Syria are not high, the Syrian market is ready, such as transportation issues and various issues that the government must provide.
The president, as a political official, naturally has to be an expert in various fields. Perhaps it is in the audience’s mind that Mr. Ghasemi has not had much of a history of such political management at the highest levels of the country. Especially since we have issues in cultural and social fields that sometimes turn into crises.
How much do you know about these issues and what are your plans?
The main dimensions of governance, economic, political, cultural and social can be the issues of any society. First, I have been in the administration, and whoever is in government is basically not just a matter of his or her own ministry. Secondly, the Ministry of Oil happens to be the most political ministry in Iran.
In terms of international diplomacy, the Ministry of Oil is also a kind of a Foreign Ministry, at which time I worked not only in energy diplomacy but also in various fields of economic diplomacy.
In the cultural and social spheres, we face many problems, but the Supreme Leader always says that cultural and social issues are important issues for the country, but today the country’s challenge is the economic challenge.
The executive branch bears its name, meaning those who must have experience and expertise in the field of management. The command of the executive branch must be in the hands of executives and experts in the areas where people’s life is dependant. Even today, I do not deny the importance of the cultural and social issues of the country, which is certainly an important issue.
See where the problems of education are today? Where are the problems of our cultural issues? Most of what has happened in the cultural sphere of the country. Investigate the root of the problems that people face in the economics of life. In my opinion, today there should be someone in this area like a locomotive to run this train who can solve the social welfare of people.
Do you believe that you have a plan for this issue?
I have a hundred percent plan for this. In fact, the capacities of our country reflect the fact that these programs are possible.
Some believe that the basic need is a candidate with a military background to enter the election arena? Some say the entry of such candidates could damage the IRGC’s position. What is your opinion on this?
I think people are tired of talking. They say, “Where is the man of action? We are tired of words.” I no longer think that talking to people works. But on the subject of the military candidate, I would first like to offer you some of the characteristics of the military, which are also present in the civilian but are greater in the military.
First, the military works better together. Second, the military is orderly. The next question is, where did the military come from in the sky that others came from somewhere else? They are from the same people. Especially we, the troops, who did not enter the country to serve and defend the country at all on the day we entered the war, and we were not a classical military.
I am proud to be a member of the IRGC, but my period of service after the war was in the field of economics. I have been the Minister of Oil as the most important political and in fact, economic ministry of this country and active in international trade. So I think these are mostly issues that are to polarize the atmosphere of the country’s society, and today people with these conditions that we see in our lives and in the conditions of society, these polarizations do not have much effect and people are fully aware of these issues.
What is your view on the political currents in the country? Will the people participate in the elections according to these views? Is it more important that the title is a reformist or consevative candidate, or those other characteristics are a priority for the people?
First of all, the living conditions of the people today are such that people do not think much about this faction and because they are struggling with difficult economic conditions. Part of that is due to sanctions imposed on the country by the Americans and the West. Today, people are looking to solve livelihood problems, so the existing dichotomy is efficiency and inefficiency.
These can affect the future of this country. Certainly, today more than 80% of the people are close to 90% of their economic issues. We also had an experience in these eight years when we looked outside. Eight years is not a short time. We have lost a lot of time and opportunities and have been waiting for outside. So today we have to look at efficiency. Let’s look at both the record and the program. Records and plans can guarantee the future of the country. I am also a member of the military, and naturally I am in the camp of the revolutionaries.
Given the emphasis you have placed on experience, what is your view on the issue of youthfulness and giving responsibilities to the young generation?
The generation of managers in the country must change. Today is exactly the season that the Supreme Leader pointed out and emphasized in the second step of the revolution that we need a generational change and a skinning in the country, and this period can be part of this combination. Experienced and young people in the next government must be together, and this will definitely happen in this period. Experienced people can come and hire young people.
I think we need to talk more about the market debate. Rising prices of basic goods, which are among the daily necessities of people, have become one of the main concerns of the poor, and why this situation has become the main question of the people on the street and in the market.
Your question is a problem of today’s society. I want to divide this into two issues.
First of all, our production capacity has not decreased, but it has also increased. One day we had so much surplus in the same chicken issue that you mentioned that we were looking for a customer abroad. In fact, we exported chicken to Iraq. In our various fields, our capacity in the country is not small. We have a surplus capacity for the needs of the country. Statistics also show this.
Second, but we have requirements for the country’s imports that can affect prices, such as livestock inputs that are chicken feed. We import livestock inputs and some basic commodities, so that I can open a parenthesis where I really looked at the country’s import figures as someone who is finally involved in different governments.
Right now, I am helping my friends with some of the basic goods needed by the country. I think with a reasonable amount of time, which is not too long, a significant portion of our import needs, which have a huge impact on rising prices today, will be domesticated.
When this happens, it has three consequences: First, our foreign exchange needs decrease and exchange rate fluctuations become more controllable. Second, it can certainly affect inflation and inflation, that is, reduce inflation. Third, because we have to build many of these inside, jobs are created.
This must be on the agenda of the future government so that we can achieve self-sufficiency, especially in the country’s food security, and this is possible. The issue of monitoring is also one of the issues affecting the current situation. The world experience for monitoring is not what we are doing. Many corruptions happen in the same surveillance. Why?
Today monitoring is possible with tools. There is also its technology. It is also very simple. If we make our monitoring methods systematic methods. This situation must be controllable. In the world, they control in the same way that they reach the car because they pass a person.
In the past, for example, when candidates speak at the beginning of their work, they all say these things and say that we do these things. Now it is very important for people that, for example, if you become president, what guarantee is there that the same criticisms that you make about the existing system will not be repeated? These are the things that people want to guarantee. The part goes back to the record. But some say the structure is flawed. Is there a corrective mechanism for this defective structure so that people face a change as soon as possible?
Look, you mentioned the change. I believe that many of the methods we follow with this command cannot be modified.
That means change, you know it has resistance. Resistance requires authority. What you mentioned that governments criticize each other is, unfortunately, an ugly phenomenon that has become common in Iran in the past few periods. It is an ugly phenomenon. But what should be done to solve it?
To solve it, it must be made so transparent that people know what this government, which is supposed to rule the country for four or eight years, has done in the first year.
People need to know. It is also a program with measurement and index. Our programs are not very measurable right now. People do not know how much the government has realized its plans. Everyone considers themselves heroes. I think that in addition to the fact that we need people in the executive field today who have expertise, experience in the executive branch, they should have a plan. We have no shortage of plans.
We have a vision document. We have the general policies of the system. We have five-year plans. We have the law as much as you want. We have the rules and regulations as much as you want. But we also need to reform programs. That this is a program with a precise unit of measurement so that people can tell the government that you did not fulfill your obligations in the first year, Mr. Government.
Why should a minister who has not fulfilled his obligations continue until the end of his term? If programs are measurable, people can control them too. Then the real judgments will be made whether this government is a hero or a loser or a winner.
So there is a need for a change in the country’s program, as well as a change in the methods we have today and a change in the structure. Because 42 years have passed since the revolution, good things have been done in the Islamic Republic, especially in the field of infrastructure, which should not be ignored, and these are really great things that the Islamic Republic has done in Iran.
But in any case, they could not provide livelihood and social welfare. Therefore, we need to figure out a fundamental change and a change of rails after years, otherwise these are the slogans of reforming the administrative system or reforming the banking system, and so on, but these are slogans.