By: Habibi, Razian

Salary Bill Scandal still dragging on with failing efforts

News ID: 3946154 -
TEHRAN, Apr. 06 (MNA) – Salary Bill Scandal had been the subject of much controversy; despite much fuss over the measures to prevent such abuses, the cumulative efforts have produced paltry outcomes.

In June 2016, the issue of inordinate figures in salary bill of some of government officials stole the headlines in the country; the implicated officials had been high-ranking directors of Iran Central Insurance Co., National Development Fund, Refah Bank, and other organizations; but the scope extended early in the media speculations and covered far more officials which enjoyed unregulated salary bill figures. Even an associate of the President Rouhani's was implicated as a central figure in bringing in and appointment of his cronies from desert province of Semnan, the birthplace of Rouhani.
The general response however had been uninspiring and frustrating; early in the scandal, constitutional loopholes were cited as the major cause of the inordinate amounts in bill of specific officials, where government officials as well as the Establishment rejected to hold themselves responsible; others surprisingly believed that high-ranking officials and directors deserved such lump sums in their bill and they should not be subject of vilification.
The Principlists were quick in taking the center stage in criticizing Rouhani's administration, along with public pressures, which made President Rouhani to jump to action: he made his first deputy Is'hagh Jahangiri to look into the issue; Jahangiri criticized the so-called 'Salary Bill Scandal' heads of organizations for abuse of public money and believed that they should be dismissed from the office. In practice however, his solutions stated in the letter to president, recommended short-term measures to curb such payments and to 'close every loophole possible,' recommendations which had no chance of implementation so far. 
Parliament was not inactive; for example, Mosarreza Servati, Parliament supervisor on Salary and Wages Council criticized the Council that it had held only one session to address the Scandal; "Mr. Nowbakht (Cabinet spokesperson) told me that the Act on Civil Service Management is as flimsy as the spider's net and should be left untouched," he quoted him earlier.
In October, Head of Supreme Audit Court provided the Parliament with a report on the Scandal; "so far, 498 files of salaries, benefits, and other receiving types and low-interest rate loans to government officials subject to restrictions of the Comprehensive Scheme of Salary have received verdicts by Audit courts," he said.
Roughly at the same time, Parliament's Commission of Article 90 also prepared its own report on the Salary Scandal. It asserted that loopholes in regulations have contributed to possible abuses. The Commission report lifted the lid on the something more alarming; government organizations which had more resources at their disposal act arbitrarily in payments to their staff, thus exceeding beyond what the Act on Civil Service Management sets as legal. This exceptionalism sought by many government organizations had contributed to the gap in received salaries in different organizations with different leverage and lobbying power. Directors and mid-level managers in such organizations enjoyed the unregulated payments. In such government bodies, only cronies and special individuals with links to the higher places in the government had chances to secure their grip on sinecures they had been granted. 
Still uninspiring becomes such hollow lip service when the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, at least in four occasions, demanded immediate addressing of the issue, believing that the unaddressed questions and issues would precipitate mistrust of the public on the Establishment. But Leader's recommendations and earnest demands fell to deaf ears. 
Since early times of the implementation of Act on Civil Service Management, exceptionalism has been the bane of this law, with many government organizations avoided the provisions and requirements of the Act.

Early in February 2017, Adel Azar told reporters that all money subject of abuse in the Salary Bill Scandal had been restored to the treasury; "397 officials had received roughly $ 6.2mn. This figure is dwarfed however by a figure provided by Azar's colleague in the Audit Organization, Fayyaz Shojaei, the Public Prosecutor, when he said illegal conduct by the government organizations, forged contracts, fixed tenders, and other unconstitutional acts would amount to a staggering sum of $ 1.3bn, and rejected other figures as inaccurate and underestimation of the real amount of abused money. "In 300 court cases, we secured final verdicts, and accordingly, $ 1bn were restored to the treasury of the figure above," he told the press. 


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