Our Economy Serves Politics, Not the People!
Imanirad believes that conflict of interests exists in all countries
and situations, but the question is whether the conditions are ripe
to turn virtual state into an actual situation.
A senior economist says when the economy is run by people who do not believe
in the free features and phenomenalization of the economy, the economy will
be plagued by the spread of conflict of interests.
As an example, Dr. Morteza Imanirad cites the instrumentalist outlook about
the economy and the fact that the economy is viewed as a subdivision of the
larger political system.
Imanirad believes that conflict of interests exists in all countries and
situations, but the question is whether the conditions are ripe to turn
virtual state into an actual situation. According to him, several factors
contribute to a growing conflict of interests. One is when people do not
have a bright and promising perspective on their future. Second is when
inefficient state institutions cannot keep their personnel satisfied and the
third state is when people use public resources and facilities to serve
their own personal interests. But even more important than these three
factors are the shape and formation of some economies that continually lead
to the disregard of public interests and pursuit of personal interests.
In the following interview, Imanirad speaks about the negative impact of
conflict of interests on competitiveness. According to him, the priority of
personal interests to the public interests will always reduce the efficiency
of the economy as a whole; as this phenomenon becomes wider the economy and
the competitiveness of the economy become weaker. But the problem gets worse
when unfortunately governments pay attention to the effect rather than the
cause and thus increase their involvement in the economy. But state
sponsored economy itself is a source of corruption and augmentation of the
conflict of interests, and this cycle of recurrence continues.
When and in which economies does the conflict of interests occur?
The question that at what times does the conflict of interests takes shape
or spreads differs from one country to another and from one individual to
another. The crucial point is at what time this conflict turns into actual
state from virtual state. The times and the circumstances in which the
conflict of interests expands are very extensive, but I would like to
mention a few of them.
First, when a country is stuck in a state of underdevelopment, and when the
effects and fruits of development and progress of the society are not known
and are not tangible or they do not exist, a person would lose his affinity
to the society and think of his own interests. The tendency to use public
resources for personal gains at a time when a person does not have a clear
and promising perspective about the future is far more than the time when
the prospects for the future of the country’s economy are clear. The second
case is when government agencies have very low efficiency for numerous
reasons, or they cannot adequately satisfy their staff. In this case, the
misappropriation of public services for personal gains is widespread and the
conflict of interests goes deeper and wider. The third mode is when some
people with clear intentions and through the influence of authorities in
state-run systems acquire information, resources, and facilities and use
them for their own personal goals. These abuses are entirely deliberate and
not subject to specific conditions. In some cases, the action becomes so
prevalent that it is no more considered to be inappropriate, but rather
described as a smart move.
Because when in the state system and in public service providers the
salaries and benefits of the employees are not paid on the basis of
meritocracy, individuals will meet their needs by using public facilities.
Particularly in developing and backward countries, if for some reason they
are lagging behind due to working in governmental organizations and are
given lower ranks compared with their friends and acquaintances, they would
tend to use public resources and facilities for personal gains. These are
some of the conditions that create conflict of interests. But I have to
mention another very important factor. The form and formation of some
economies is continually leading to the overlooking of public interests and
the pursuit of personal interests. In other words, there is a growing
conflict of interests in economic formation.
We did not have modern knowledge to handle these issues; so we
used traditional management methods for administering modern
Of course, this section is not unrelated to the conditions and times
described. When the economy is run by the people who do not believe in the
free features and phenomenalization of the economy, the economy will be
plagued by the spread of conflict of interests. An example is the
instrumentalist outlook about the economy. In this view, the economy is seen
as a subdivision of the larger political system. In addition to this,
governments and establishments that seek broad plans and expand governmental
organizations unwittingly provide the ground for the spread of conflict of
interests in the country. The more the economy moves in the direction of
freedom of action of economic activists, the more limited becomes the
possibility of conflict of interests in state-owned systems.
What is causing conflict of interest in Iran? What factors have prepared the
ground for creation of this level of conflict of interests?
The same factors that I mentioned in reply to the above question are reasons
for a conflict of interests in Iran. Most of the conditions mentioned in the
previous question, unfortunately, exist in Iran. We have formulated the
economy in a way that it serves politics more than the people. When these
conditions unfold for the economy, it is natural that the economy is coupled
with centralism and with control. In this situation, the economy is heavily
politicized, and the result is an increase in conflict of interests. Aside
from that, the basic needs of families during this period are not well
provided. Healthy courses for generating incomes are blocked, unemployment
rises, and all these factors create the platform for this conflict. When
these reasons begin to work, they do not require them to continue, because
these reasons are so strong that they do culture building, and hence the
ruined culture becomes dominant.
When we go into the root cause of our current economic problems, we find a
conflict of interests. What is the share of the rules and regulations in
creating this situation?
There are few issues in the Iranian economy that create this problem, and I
think that until these issues are resolved, the issue of conflict between
personal interests and the public interest would remain. This problem not
only is not solved but gets bigger every day. When such a problem grows, it
becomes a habit and certain cultural criteria are developed for that
purpose. In other words, the growth and spread of corruption and the
provision of personal benefits lead to the creation of norms in the economy,
which, like an avalanche, gets bigger and bigger every day.
I will briefly explain these factors; first of all, the prospect of
development in the country is not clear. The harder it becomes to realize
this outlook the higher the desire to serve personal interests. Secondly,
the Iranian economy has long entered the modern world. The government, the
parliament, the market and other systems are of a modern character. In the
aftermath of the revolution, we did not have modern knowledge to handle
these issues; so we used traditional management methods for administering
The same issue brought merit under question and there was a confrontation
between skill and (religious) commitment. The collapse of these frontiers
opened the way for using public interests to serve private gains. With the
increasing opening of this way, the moral, religious and human sanctities
collapsed easier, to the point where these relations overlooked social
decency. Thirdly, part of the political and administrative power of the
country became decentralized after the revolution, which made it impossible
to establish strict rules and regulations to control working relations in
public systems. Fourthly, the economic inefficiency and the economic line of
thinking after the revolution made the market weaker and weaker every day.
In contrast, the public sector grew bigger and bigger, making the scope of
public goods, whether efficient or ineffective wider. The expansion of the
public goods sector causes the enlargement of the public service providers,
making the situation more attractive for taking advantage of these benefits.
A few years ago, the World Bank conducted a study which showed that as
governments become larger corruption in those countries becomes more
widespread, and on the contrary, a stronger market would cause corruption to