Turks face Majlis commission for major contracts

19 November 2004
A Majlis (parliament) commission investigating contracts awarded to Turkish companies to run the country's new international airport and second GSM licence is due to report by the end of November. The two contracts, let by ministries controlled by President Khatami's reformist government, have become the focal point of a political struggle over Iran's economic direction (MEED 8:10:04, Cover Story).

The Majlis, which in September gave itself the right to investigate all government contracts signed with foreign companies since March this year, is expected to vote on the contracts at the end of the month. Leading deputies in the Majlis, which has been controlled by conservatives since February's election, have criticised the contracts as prejudicial to Iranian political and economic interests.

One member of the Majlis commission in mid-November said Iranian companies, including subsidiaries of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), were capable of carrying out both contracts. Critics of the Majlis allege the awards have come under attack because IRGC affiliates were among the losing bidders.

The Information & Communication Technologies Ministry in October signed the licence agreement with a consortium led by Turkcellto develop a $3,000 million GSM network. Legislators have argued the tender was unfairly biased against Iranian bidders.

The Roads & Transport Ministry agreed the operation contract for Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKEA) in May with Tepe Akfen Ventures. Only one flight was allowed to land at the new airport, which took decades to build, before the IRGC closed it down on the grounds that the Turkish presence breached security. Ankara's relations with Israel and the US have been cited in the Majlis and the conservative press as reasons to bar the company from such a vital contract. Roads & Transport Minister Ahmad Khorram was in October impeached by the Majlis for Iran's poor safety record as well as the IKEA contract.


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