Mohammad Baqer Nobakht

Nobakht denies withdrawal from NDF, raps MPs

Tehran, Dec 28, IRNA — Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht has rejected ‘baseless’ allegations that the government withdrew $4.1 billion from the National Development Fund.
“Those who have raised the idea are misinformed and should apologize to the public,” Vice President Nobakht said, on Saturday.

This is the second time the vice president is denying such allegations.

Recently a parliamentary report claimed the government made a large withdrawal from the National Development Fund (NDF).

At a press conference held on Dec. 10, after a weekly cabinet meeting, Nobakht, who is also the vice president for strategic planning and supervision, asserted that the $4.1 billion figure is actually related to the revenues earned from selling oil through a UAE company, which later failed to clear its debt.

At first, the Emirati company refused to return the money to the Central Bank. “Over the past year the two sides agreed on a repayment schedule and the government handed the funds back to the Central Bank,” according to Nobakht. He also stressed that the funds originally belonged to the oil ministry and should have been returned directly to it.

In his latest remarks, the spokesman criticized the Supreme Audit Court of Iran for spreading the “unreal” information. He said those who have made these announcements must apologize, reported.

He said: “It is not possible to withdraw money from a fund that is overseen by a board comprised of members of the three branches of government. The parliament has a member in this board and that member has a vote.”

The supervisory board of the NDF consists of the state’s attorney, the head of the General Inspection Office and director of the Supreme Audit Court of Iran.

Parliamentary members sit as observers in most councils, but they have a voting right in the NDF. “It is not possible to withdraw the sum from the fund and then deny it,” said the vice president.

“Let’s assume that we need funds. Then we’ll ask for permission, as the government has done before,” said the spokesman.

NDF Backs the Administration

On Dec. 17, Safdar Hosseini, the director of the NDF reaffirmed Nobakht’s position on the subject and rejected allegations that the government had illegally withdrawn around $4.1 billion from the fund’s account.

Safdar Hosseini told the press that the supervisory mechanism of the fund is so powerful that no agency or organization – and not even the government itself – can withdraw from it without being legally allowed to do so.

Hosseini stressed that the government has not made any illegal withdrawals from the fund, and that it hasn’t even requested to legally take any money from the NDF. He said that the balance sheets of the central bank are being checked monthly by the NDF, and that the reported $4.1-billion withdrawal is nowhere in the records or on the balance sheets of the CBI.

Explaining that the fund is only permitted to finance the private sector and the cooperatives to a certain extent, Hosseini added that the NDF is assigned to pay $24.4 billion in foreign exchange loans during the current fiscal year. The amount has been approved by the supervisory board of the fund.

“Any government withdrawal from the fund will need the permission of the parliament and the Leader,” he asserted.



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