Tehran's mayor wants to attract foreign capital
TEHRAN, June 8 (AFP) - Tehran's new mayor Morteza Alviri said on Tuesday
he wanted to attract private capital, both Iranian and foreign, to tackle
the city's twin problems of pollution and traffic.
"We must attract domestic and foreign capital from private sectors
for our urban projects," Alviri said in an official ceremony to mark
his assumption of office after his appointment last week.
The new mayor made clear that his approach to tackling the city's problems
would not be bound by any political considerations.
"Tehran's municipality will lean neither to the left nor to the
right and will not belong to any faction," the reformist mayor told
government and municipal officials.
Alviri, 51, an economist and electrical engineer, is currently an advisor
to President Mohammad Khatami. As head of Iran's Free Trade Zones he is
a staunch supporter of liberal economic reforms.
The importance of the capital, home to one in six Iranians, makes the
mayor one of the leading figures on the country's political landscape.
Alviri pledged to establish "transparency" in his management
of the municipality.
He paid tribute to his predecessor, Gholamhossein Karbaschi, and described
the post of Tehran mayor as a "high risk job." Karbaschi, also
a moderate, began serving a two-year jail term on corruption and mismanagement
charges in May.
A letter from Karbaschi, sent from Tehran's Evin prison, was read out
at the ceremony.
Alviri announced that Tehran's debts amounted to 1.000 billion rials
(more than 300 million dollars at the official exchange rate).
"Tehran is suffering from severe pollution problems and anarchy
in its traffic," the mayor said, adding that he planned to "review
the usefulness and the viability of existing development projects".
He said negotiations had started with the World Bank over financing
for a big sewage project in the capital.
Tehran, a city of 10 million, hemmed in by mountains, is one of the
most polluted cities in the world, and is famous for its monstrous snarl-ups.
Some 75 percent of the pollution is thought to be caused by traffic.
The inauguration ceremony for the new mayor was held in the Baharan
House of Culture, in a poor quarter of southern Tehran.
The house was built by Karbaschi as an arts centre to benefit some of
the most deprived inhabitants of the city.
The city suffers not only from severe pollution, but also from widespread
unemployment and unchecked expansion.