TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s plan to merge the strategic oil ministry into an enlarged energy portfolio has been “cancelled,” the official parliamentary website said on Tuesday.
“The merger of the two ministries has been cancelled and taken off the government’s agenda to merge ministries,” the website quoted Hossein Sobhani-Nia, a member of the parliamentary management committee, as saying.
Sobhani-Nia said the decision had been taken by a subcommittee made up of representatives from both parliament and the government, which had “come to the conclusion that the oil ministry should remain independent because of its significance.”
The merger of the oil and energy portfolios had become a major bone of contention between Ahmadinejad and the conservative-dominated parliament after the president moved to implement plans to streamline his cabinet in early May.
On May 15, Ahmadinejad announced he had personally taken charge of the oil ministry for an interim period, after dismissing former oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi the previous day.
The announcement triggered a storm of criticism from parliament, with many lawmakers insisting the oil ministry should remain independent.
The row triggered the intervention of the constitutional watchdog, which ruled that Ahmadinejad had overstepped his authority.
Ahmadinejad was eventually forced to name a close ally as caretaker for a ministry that oversees nearly 80 percent of Iran’s annual revenues.