Iran unveils major privatisation plan

TEHRAN, July 3, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has unveiled plans for a major privatisation of state industries except companies in the crucial oil sector, press reports said Monday.

The government plans to sell off 80 percent of its stake in a range of state-run industrial companies — from banking to media, transport to minerals — under an order issued by Khamenei.

The move is likely to lead to a major upheaval in the economy, which is currently closely controlled by the government.

The order does not affect the oil and gas industry in Iran, which is the second largest oil exporter in the 11-member OPEC cartel and the fourth largest in the world.

State television said last month that Iran expected to earn 60 billion dollars from oil exports in the current financial year to March 20, 2007.

Under the Khamenei plan, however, certain industries affiliated to the armed forces may be sold off.