By HASSAN FATHI
Amid the tug-of-war between the Government and City Hall and public dissatisfaction at expenditure and arbitrary decisions at the bureau, the entire contingent at the agency lost their seats in recent elections. The new contingent of Reformists must shortly elect a Mayor to replace Baqer Qalibaf.
Much of the controversy at City Hall focused on erratic decisions and lack of oversight at the accounts department. The annual Budget of Tehran Municipality is three times that of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development. Abbas Akhoundi, minister in charge of the office did inspect and audit accounts at City Hall. Discrepancies were evident and Akhoundi penalized the Mayor for arbitrary decisions and failure to abide by legal guidelines.
The Government of Hope and Competence which is currently in charge of running the nation made several references to flaws and mismanagement at City Hall. Qalibaf sold Tehran thirteen times over. In his own words: “I provided housing for some 40,000 employees at City Hall, with some 69,000 members remaining on the list!” It was an affront to the nation, while 4 million in Tehran alone are looking for accommodation.
It has since emerged that City Hall had bought journalists in State Media and planted some of its own reporters in the print media and Internet outlets. The general policy of ganging-up and smothering the public with lies and inexactitudes at City Hall brought down the house. The public has since come down hard on nepotism and sinecures in the system.
Much needs to be done. The dredging operation is only beginning. Grease, sleaze and corruption are all too common in our bureaucracy. The notion of public service and improvement of the lot of the rank and file has a long way to go.
The Plan and Management Organization which was dissolved by the former government has been reinstated by President Rouhani. Many other vital agencies such as Monetary Audit Unit have been revived in the context of the organization. The list is long and painful.
Tehran Municipality is plagued with embezzlement, massive payments of bribes and murky practices. Tehran was abused and reduced to an inferno of steel and concrete with no roads or breathing space. The developments in Tehran – ۲ million empty housing units – remain a quagmire of over-expenditure and uncertain future.
Macro-Economics and planning is in short supply. The future of Tehran is problematic. Macro-management doesn’t exist. Survival, utilities, recreation, water management and traffic are at the top of the agenda. Tehran City Hall was entrusted to a sundry pack of personalities with little town and city planning or management experience.
Tehran City Hall is responsible for traffic, policing and construction in this lifeless labyrinth. The burden is out of proportion for any single agency to manage: Perhaps the reason for the current problems we are facing! Ultimately, the election of the City Mayor should give us a clue as to the problems we are facing and, hopefully, possible solutions to our dilemma.