During the second 10 day period of Rouhani’s presidency, the majority of his proposed cabinet ministers earned the approval of the parliament, with the first meeting of the newly formed government taking place.
This report covers the most recent updates about the promises mentioned within the RouhaniMeter website. Since the government’s focus has remained mainly on domestic policy and the economy during the past 10 days, a number of promises under these two categories are considered “in progress,” while many under the foreign policy and socio-cultural categories have been left unattended.
The formation of a working group to save Lake Urmia
In the first meeting of cabinet ministers on August 18th, it was decided that a working group would be formed to save Lake Urmia and prevent it from drying up. The ministries of Energy, Interior Affairs, Agriculture, the head of the Environmental Protection Organization of Iran, and a representative of the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Supervision are members of this working group. In addition to using prior studies for the plans and programs for saving Lake Urmia, the working group will continue field studies and develop a set of solutions to present to the government during the next two months.
During his election campaign, Rouhani promised that saving Lake Urmia would be one of his top priorities.
Improving the buying power of Iranians
During the first official meeting of the new government, Hassan Rouhani stated that his government’s first priority will be increasing the buying power of Iranian families. Rouhani urged all executive organizations influencing Iran’s monetary policy to make a list of all the actions that could improve the economic status of Iranian households within a 100 days, and present them to the cabinet.
Another promise made by Rouhani during his election campaign was providing commodity subsidies, as well as monetary subsidies, for basic goods to support low-income households. On several occasions before and after the elections, Akbar Torkan, a senior advisor to Rouhani, has stated that with the current situation of Iran, providing commodity subsidies, a program previously known for the distribution of coupons, is a necessity. Torkan also noted that in many developed countries around the world, governments support low-income households by providing different versions of commodity subsidies. Torkan believes that the government can also support employees by “activating the pending capacities of the industrial sector, and also by optimizing the social welfare system to minimize the government’s spending in the health sector.”
Reopening the Management and Planning Organization of Iran
As promised by Hassan Rouhani, the new government is planning to reopen the Management and Planning Organization (MPO), previously closer under the Ahmadinejad government. The appointment of Mohammad Bagher Nobakht as the Vice President for strategic planning and supervision has been the first step toward achieving this promise.
Nobakht explained the priorities of the 11th government for the first 100 days of its formation, which included “amending the budget of the current persian year, preparing the annual budget for the next year to be approved by the parliament, and reopening the MPO.” Nobakht addedthat the MPO will soon resume its activities with the amalgamation of the department of strategic planning and supervision with the department of capital development.
Reinstating university professors dismissed or forced into retirement for their political views
Prior to being elected as the President, Rouhani stated that “those [professors] who were dismissed for speaking their mind should come back to universities.” In this regard, the temporary head of the Ministry of Science and Technology announced that those professors who believe they were forced into retirement can come back to the universities, and their cases will be reviewed if they believe there was a mistake made in their dismissal or retirement.
*Rouhani Meter researchers do not consider an action on a promise to be “in progress” unless it has been addressed in a direct order by the President, or a writ given by the responsible Minister to carry out the the promise. In the case of the announcement by the head of the Ministry of Science and Technology, we do not consider this to be “in progress.”
Developing a smart-card for patients with refractory diseases
The development of smart cards, and subsidies for treatments catered to patients struggling with refractory diseases was amongst Rouhani’s campaign promises. Although this idea was originally formed by Ahmadinejad’s government, Rouhani has restated this promise on several occasions. The Young Journalists Club has recently reported that 1,815 patients with refractory diseases in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province received their smart cards, although the news is not confirmed yet.
In addition, 110 thousand patients struggling with cancer and other special refractory diseases are insured by social security organizations in Iran who have received over 900 million (US) dollars in total when the prices of medications increased in Iran.
Reforming strict auditing regulations prior to the publication
Prior to the election, Rouhani criticized the strict auditing regulations that publishers have worked with, and stated:
I do not believe in pre-publication audits. You should make the regulations transparent, and allow for limited copies of books to be published. If there is an issue with the book, remind the author or the publishers … Currently, due to the lack of transparent regulations, some books have to wait several months, and even years, to pass the initial auditing phase.
In this regard, Ali Jannati, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance has stated that the monitoring phase prior to publishing certain materials will soon end. Jannati believes that “publishers know that they will put their investments at risk by publishing, for instance, 3,000 copies of a book when the content might not be be approved by the Ministry.” The policy, according to the new Minister will allow publishers to follow clear guidelines and regulations from the beginning. Additionally, the Minister announced audits after publication will follow legal procedures guided by experts and professionals, without taking any personal criteria into consideration.
Jannati’s statements have raised concerns from publishers and authors worried about the risks involved in investing in books, especially as these books might be confiscated after their publication.