Leader’s Speech to Cabinet Members

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on August 30, 2010 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I am thankful to Allah the Exalted who gave me another opportunity to meet you honorable friends and officials in this place on the occasion of Government Week. I am thankful to Allah the Exalted who gave me this opportunity to ask Him to bestow rewards and success on you and to convey to you some of the views and recommendations that should be discussed publicly. Of course, there are certain things that are conveyed to our honorable officials in private meetings - both to the esteemed President and to his cabinet members - but there are certain other things that should be discussed in public because there is a social aspect to them.

First of all, we should not forget the memory of our honorable martyrs - Shahid Rajai, Shahid Bahonar and Shahid Eraghi. They were truly committed to the values of the Revolution. Maybe this is why Allah the Exalted has made their memory stay alive. This is one way in which Allah the Exalted thanks His servants. "Surely Allah is grateful." [The Holy Quran, 2: 158] Allah the Exalted thanks us although we do not have any such demands and expectations. Allah the Exalted thanks the servants who work in a sincere way and step into the arena with everything they have. One way in which God thanks his servants is that their memories are not erased from the minds of people for many years. I hope the memory of these brilliant personalities will stay alive in our society because they are the embodiment of our values. If their memory stays alive, our values will also stay alive.

This year the meeting with you dear officials has been held in the holy month of Ramadan and by Allah's favor, our government and our officials will benefit from the blessings of this holy month. Personally I pray a lot on the nights of Qadr. Last night - which was the 19th of Ramadan - I prayed a lot for the honorable President, the cabinet members and other government officials of the country. My prayer does not have much value, but it is necessary to pray to Allah the Exalted and that is exactly what I did. You should also pray and ask Allah the Exalted to bestow success on you.

First and foremost, I would say that the past year has been a very difficult year for the tenth administration and the efforts which were made during this time by our government officials in the executive branch were truly valuable efforts. They truly deserve to be rewarded and thanked for their efforts. The past year was also a difficult year on the political and security front. It was also a difficult year in that foreign movements tried to influence certain areas - such as our economy, our culture and other areas. Those who started the fitna of the year 1388 seriously harmed the country. The fitna might have been planned by the seditionists themselves or other people and I do not want to make any allegations, but it is a fact that the fitna had been planned. If the fitna had not happened, there is no doubt that the country would have been able to move things forward in a better way. The seditionists made the enemies hopeful and raised the morale of those who have deployed their forces and formed a camp against the Islamic Republic.

Of course, you managed to move things forward by relying on your beliefs, your religious faith and your steadfastness. You managed to remove the obstacles from the way of the Islamic system. As far as I know, you managed to clear difficult hurdles in an appropriate way. I believe this is very valuable and it is indicative of God's attention and mercy. A number of the things that Mr. President explained in his detailed report were accomplished in the year 1388. Thankfully good achievements have been made in spite of all the problems.

This too is in fact a manifestation of the orientations that Shahid Rajai and Shahid Bahonar had. This was exactly how these two martyrs were. They were the embodiment of pious efforts and firm commitment to the principles. They preserved their firm commitment to the principles and values, no matter what their role and position was.

In the past years it has been customary to commemorate these two honorable martyrs during Government Week. However, not everybody who commemorates these two dear martyrs is truly committed to their path and their orientations.

You should be proud of being committed to the principles of the Revolution. You should feel proud that you believe in the slogans of the Revolution. It is a great blessing that implementing the slogans of the Revolution makes you feel proud. One of the most important characteristics of this government is that it has adopted the slogans of the Revolution and feels proud of these slogans. And you should know that the people voted for you because of these slogans. The people are committed and attached to these slogans. The slogan of justice is interesting for the people. The slogan of avoiding aristocracy is an interesting and pleasant slogan for the people. The same is true of the slogan of rendering services to the people, the slogan of fighting the arrogant powers, the slogan of simple lifestyle, the slogan of making efforts and serving the people. These slogans are among the things that the people love and demand. These are the things that a vigilant nation and society would demand from its government officials: justice, services, friendly relationship with the people, commitment to religion, commitment to religious values, commitment to sharia. These are the things that the people demand and love. Thankfully you promoted these slogans and the people voted for you: you should appreciate this.

I will put forward certain recommendations under a few topics. Regarding general and large-scale orientations of the government, my recommendation is that you should do everything in your power to preserve these orientations. Do not abandon your orientation towards Islam, ethics, justice, serving the people and fighting the arrogant and bullying power of the world. The increasing knowledge and political maturity of the people has caused them to demand these things more than before. Today the issue of fighting the arrogant powers is clearer and more pleasant than before the Revolution and the first few years after the Revolution. Today the people have seen many things with their own eyes and they have experienced many things. Therefore, many things have become clear to them. The same is true of rendering services and constant battle to help the country move forward. These should be your general orientations. You should not abandon these orientations.

Facilitating life for the people is one of the things that should be taken into consideration in the case of the government's general orientations. It is necessary to facilitate life for the people. This is an important topic and if it were explained in detail, we would realize that many of the economic demands and many of the functions related to the government - including the issue of electronic government, the issue of creating activity in our villages, preventing migration of rural areas - can be subsumed under the topic of facilitating life for the people. The purpose is to enable the people to live a comfortable and easy life. The purpose is to enable the people to have security and the effects will spread to different areas.

The twenty-year strategic plan is one of the issues that I believe should be taken into consideration by the government in its general orientations. The strategic plan was an essential project which was carried out in the country. Different aspects of the plan was researched and evaluated. The plan is not a collection of slogans: it has been prepared on the basis of the existing facilities and the realities on the ground. The plan is in fact a roadmap that should be followed for twenty years. Well, five years of this twenty-year period has passed. We might wake up one day and realize that this twenty-year period is over. We should see how much progress we have made. This is one of the things that must be done. We should see how much of the plan we have managed to implement and how many of the goals have been fulfilled. Otherwise, if we fail to pay attention to this point, we might wake up one day and see that ten or twelve years of this period has passed, that we have failed to make as much progress as we should have and that it is impossible to tread the rest of the path in the remaining time. Therefore, it is necessary to appropriately coordinate our activities and efforts with the progress we want to make during each era, depending on the facilities of that particular period. I believe it is necessary to examine this issue. And this is something that lies on the shoulders of the government, so fulfill your responsibility in this regard.

If you find out that the country has failed to make as much progress as it should have in a period of five years, for example, then you should conclude that your plans have not been adequate enough. I believe you should put certain people in charge of this issue, a group of people who can sit down together and evaluate the situation in a wise and careful way and see whether we have made as much progress as we should have. Of course, it might not be possible to evaluate such things in an accurate way, but it is possible to find out whether we have made enough progress or not.

Progress and justice are one of the things that are important as far as the general orientations are concerned. I proposed that the current decade should be named "The Decade of Progress and Justice". The proposal was accepted and different organizations of the country agreed that the current decade should be the decade progress and justice. Almost two years has passed. Of course, one can see the manifestations of progress in different things that are being done in the country. The reports that were presented in this meeting were good reports. They show that there have been advances in different sectors of the country. But how can justice be administered? That is to say, is it really necessary to have a standard in order to see whether justice has been administered in different areas, including cultural areas, educational areas and economic areas? For example, what is the standard of justice in the area of education? How can justice be assured? It is necessary to specify a standard in advance so that we can include the standard in our planning and administer the kind of justice we want. As long as we have not specified the standard, it will be impossible to administer the kind of justice we want to administer. Therefore, specifying a standard for justice in different areas is an important step. For example, what does observing justice depend on as far as budget allocation is concerned? How can one make sure whether or not justice has been observed in budget allocation? I will explain this issue later on under the topic of culture. It is necessary to have a standard in order to specify such things.

Another thing that is necessary as far as the orientations are concerned is the five-year plans. These five-year plans are being considered by the Majlis and we hope that the executive branch and the Majlis will have genuine cooperation in this regard. Imagine that the executive branch has prepared a plan and insists that it should be the final version for the purpose of implementation and if the Majlis makes fundamental modifications, the plan might lose its cohesive structure. Similarly, if the modifications that are made to the fifth development plan are motivated by a local or insular perspective rather than a large-scale and comprehensive perspective on our national issues, then the plan will lose its cohesion. Adopting a local perspective makes certain things magnified out of proportion. There might be a genuine need, but when one considers things from a general perspective, the local need that might look huge in its local context will lose its significance. This is because the need cannot be a priority considering the other things that must be done and the limited facilities that exist. It is necessary to adopt a general perspective on the plan. It is necessary to avoid a local or insular perspective in this regard.

This is one side of the issue. The other side of the issue is that the executive branch should accept that the plan it has prepared and handed in to the Majlis can be modified and criticized. Both the Majlis and the executive branch should be flexible in their positions so that they can move closer to each other and agree on a structured plan which can be implemented.

Good things have been done in the area of economic work as well, which was mentioned by Mr. President in his report. It is a good idea to make the report publicly available. That is to say, the measures that have been adopted and the work that has been done by the executive branch should be reported to the people. What I would like to stress in this meeting is the economic overhaul plan, a plan which was put forth by the ninth administration. Currently the issue of targeted subsidies - which was part of the overhaul plan - is being discussed and evaluated. It is about to be implemented and everybody agrees that it is necessary to implement the plan although there might be differences of opinion regarding the way it should be implemented. However, the other parts of the economic overhaul plan - which are related to our monetary, trade, customs and other systems - must not be ignored and it is necessary to pursue these other parts as well. The economic overhaul plan was an important and great initiative. My advice is that the economic overhaul plan is one of the things that you must not leave unfinished. Follow up the plan in a very serious way.

There is another economic matter that I would like to stress: paying attention to macroeconomic indices. Of course, there were certain points in this regard in the report which was presented by Mr. President, but I would like to stress the issue as well. It is necessary to seriously work on the issue of growth rate. The growth rate that has been specified in the development plan or in the strategic plan is very different from the growth rate that we have actually achieved. We should not ignore the effects of global economic recession and the problems of global economy: these factors are definitely significant, but we should try to get closer to the indices that have been specified. The same is true of the issue of domestic and foreign investment. The statistics that are reported are good and promising. In any case, the issue of investment is very important. The future depends on investment in different sectors, be it the energy sector or other sectors. Investment is necessary in different sectors.

The issue of employment is also an important issue. The plans that have been prepared for employment over the past few years have not produced the results that were expected. The measures that were taken were not bad, but they were not enough to obviate the need for special attention to the issue of employment. The same is true of the issue of improving productivity.

Regarding economic issues, paying attention to the policies specified in Article 44 of the Constitution is among the things that I stress and recommend. It is necessary to pay serious attention to these policies. Certain statistics are reported to compare recent privatization with past privatization and these statistics are accurate, but it should be noted that the policies specified in Article 44 of the Constitution had not been announced at that time. That is to say, the period of time in which there was no mention of Article 44 of the Constitution must not be included in the statistics. Basically our economic conditions changed after the policies were announced for implementation. In fact a new movement was started in the country. Therefore, comparing the past few years with those times is not a valid comparison. Currently we should look at what we have done regarding Article 44 of the Constitution. This is important. The spirit of Article 44 of the Constitution was to enable the people to make investments in our economy and to manage it. It is necessary to encourage the people to enter the arena of our economy with their capital and to manage it. Otherwise if all organizations are managed by the government, it will be impossible to reach the goals. Of course, you should pursue privatization within the framework that has been specified by these policies and the principles that have been specified in the regulations, which are good and accurate regulations.

Of course, the private sector is incapable of investing in certain areas. That is to say, the private sector is not capable of certain investments. What is the solution? If the private sector remains incapable, no problem will be resolved. The policies should move towards enabling the private sector to engage in certain large-scale investments. And this would be a policy. However, when the government refuses to undertake certain economic activities, it does not mean it is withdrawing from economic work: no, the government would still be in charge of policy-making. That is to say, the government is in charge of both policy-making and supervision even if it refuses to engage in certain economic activities.

In the 1360s, when our government officials were constantly moving towards a state-dominated economy, I would tell them, "Imagine that there is a vehicle which can carry this heavy load and that you can simply walk ahead alongside the vehicle or sit behind the steering wheel and drive it. You have put this vehicle aside and are carrying on your shoulders all the load that it was carrying. You are moving forward in a laborious way. You will not reach your destination, you will grow tired, you will not manage to carry all the load that the vehicle was carrying and the vehicle will fall into disuse. This vehicle is the private sector." I would tell these things to them at that time and they would not listen. Imam Khomeini (r.a.) would also insist that they should let the people step in, but they would argue that by "the people" he did not mean the private sector. They would say that "the people" meant ordinary citizens in general, not the private sector. They would argue that the government should help the people by taking control of the economy. This was how they used to interpret Imam Khomeini's (r.a.) statements. Well, their reasoning was wrong.

Currently the atmosphere is a different atmosphere. All the people who were speaking like that at that time have made a U-turn. That is to say, they are still not moderate: they are still not steering a middle course. They used to be at one extreme and they are at another extreme now. After all, there is a middle course that can be taken: the people should step in with their capital and take on management of our economy, and the government should only supervise the affairs. If we manage to do this, it will be a great blessing for our economy. Of course, this achievement will not be possible in the short term: it can only be done in the medium or long term and it requires a lot of efforts.

Of course, the issue of combating smuggling, economic corruption and other such things requires a long and detailed discussion. All of these things are related to economic matters in one way or another, but because I spoke a lot about economic matters, I do not want to continue the discussion any longer.

The issue of managements is another topic under which I would like to offer a few recommendations. The cabinet is one of the important managements in the country. The cabinet is very important. I believe that the cabinet plays a very important role. Decision-making in the cabinet puts a legal responsibility on the shoulders of everybody, including our government officials and the people. This shows how important the decisions of the cabinet are. And as far as executive affairs are concerned, the executive branch is in charge of everything.

There are a few essential points in this regard. One issue is that the cabinet must help governmental organizations cooperate. That is to say, if there is a conflict between different organizations, the cabinet must try to minimize or eliminate the conflict, which is one of the important issues. This conflict usually exists. Different organizations usually have certain disagreements, which is natural. Such disagreements are not particular to our country and they exist everywhere in the world: they are natural. I always draw an analogy and say that the cabinet is a crossroads, with the President playing the role of a traffic warden who guides the cabinet. He stops certain members and orders certain other members to move. That is to say, he helps the cabinet members cooperate and avoid conflicts. This is one of the roles that the cabinet should play.

Sometimes these conflicts and disagreements, which exist in executive work, are made public and this increases the disagreements by several times and creates other problems. For example, one organization says something or expresses a view about a particular issue and another organization announces the opposite. Thus, the people are confused. That is to say, they cannot decide which organization is telling the truth. This issue is also related to the daily life of the people. That is to say, it is not something that lies outside the daily life of the people. No, it is directly related to daily life issues of the people. One organization reports a statistic and another organization reports another statistic. Such things must not happen. All our administrations have suffered from these problems. Cabinet members sit down together and spend their valuable time discussing different issues, so try to give a more significant role to the cabinet and try to reduce the conflicts as much as possible.

Another important issue related to the cabinet is the role that ministers play. After all, this is where there are shared responsibilities. As a minister, you have shared responsibilities, so nobody can claim that he is not responsible. Nobody can claim that he is not involved. No, when decisions are made in the cabinet, all the ladies and gentlemen who are present in the cabinet are responsible. All those who can vote are responsible. Therefore, you must play a role in improving and reforming the decisions that are made. For example nobody should be busy with his own papers in the cabinet meetings and nobody should attend the meetings without having prepared himself for the discussion. You have the right to vote on the issue that is supposed to be discussed in a particular cabinet meeting. Therefore, you must play a role in the decisions. Because you have a legal right to vote, you must research and reflect on the issue that is supposed to be discussed. You must receive help from the experts who are working for your ministry and ask their advice on the issues that are supposed to be decided in the cabinet meetings. Of course, ministers have certain powers and it is necessary to trust them. It is necessary to trust the people who are in charge of the executive branch of government - namely the ministers. It is necessary to recognize the responsibilities of ministers. These responsibilities must not be treated lightly.

Another issue that is related to state management is redundant work. It is necessary to avoid redundant work in the government. Redundant work has a few flaws. First of all, human recourses are wasted without a good reason. Second, financial resources are squandered. Third, the decisions that are made might be in conflict with one another. When two organizations are in charge of the same thing, they might make conflicting decisions. The forth and the most important flaw is that the responsibilities are treated lightly. For example, if a problem occurs in an issue related to culture, economy, foreign policy or other areas, the responsibilities are treated lightly. When there is redundant work, the responsibilities are treated lightly. There is redundant work between the executive branch of government and certain organizations that are outside the executive branch. All our efforts are focused on eliminating such redundant work, so at least as far as the executive branch is concerned, there must not be redundant work. Of course, there are certain exceptions, but as a general rule, redundant work is not good.

Now I would like to make a comment about management. Sometimes our executive officials complain to me about certain organizations. Most of the time, their complaints are legitimate. That is to say, your complaints accurately reflect the situation of the other branches of government or the situation of certain organizations such as the Armed Forces. Most of the time, our executive officials are right. Because I have worked in the executive branch, I am familiar with the workload and how the work is done. So I can tell their complaints are legitimate. You might be right in the majority of cases, but there might also be legitimate criticisms against you in certain cases. Therefore, try to develop a capacity to accept criticisms. Our executive officials should be able to accept and tolerate criticisms. Of course, this is difficult, but it is necessary to be tolerant. "The instrument of management is tolerance." Management does not just mean having the final say on things. If you want to manage things, you have to be tolerant. There are certain things that you must tolerate as a manager.

A couple of years ago, in a meeting with the same people who have attended this meeting, I complained to the executive branch about a cultural issue. Fortunately one feels that the executive branch is paying serious attention to cultural work. Huge budgets for cultural work, different cultural initiatives and other such things are very good indeed. It is a joy to see that serious attention is being paid to culture. However, during the early months of this year or last year - I do not remember exactly - when the cultural budget was being discussed, I told Mr. President, "When I heard you have approved this huge cultural budget, I became worried about how it is going to be spent." This is while an increase in the cultural budget should make one happy. Our managers like to spend the financial resources that are made available to them. This is because they are well aware that if they fail to spend them this year, there will be no such resources next year. As a result, managers have to spend these resources. It is very difficult to appropriately spend a budget that has been allocated to cultural work. It is not easy. Cultural work is not like construction, so one cannot say, "Well, here are the land and the building materials. Now go and built it." The materials for cultural work are very hard to come by. It is very hard to find the architect and the constructors, as far as cultural work is concerned.

Therefore, I believe it is necessary to pay serious attention to cultural work. First of all, we should determine what kinds of cultural work are important for us. In previous administrations, they decided that they should engage in cultural work. I do not want to mention names, but I have no choice. I have to be specific for the sake of comparison. They decided to do cultural work, so they said they needed a cultural budget. In the name of cultural work, they decided to repair the caravanserais of the Shah Abbas era. Yes, repairing the caravanserais of that era is good because they are historical monuments. But is that a priority in our cultural work? We have to deal with the huge pressure of global propaganda. Politics is at the service of culture. Economy is at the service of culture. Art is at the service of culture. All these things are being used in order to mount pressure on the culture of our nation. They are well aware that if they manage to change our culture, the battle will be over. If there is a battle against the arrogant powers, if there is a desire to resist and confront foreign interference, it is all because of culture. Every society has a culture and if they change that culture, everything will become theirs. For this reason, they have focused all their efforts on our culture. In the face of this cultural movement and in the face of this great cultural invasion which has targeted the spirit of our Revolution, the spirit of our independence and the spirit of our religious faith, repairing the caravanserais of the Shah Abbas era is our priority? This is a mistake in identifying the kinds of cultural work that are necessary. This is a flaw. Therefore, as far as cultural work is concerned, what should we go after? After cultural products. Fortunately I am in contact with our students and I arrange quite a few meetings with them and last week in one such meeting our revolutionary youth - who are the hope of our future - from different associations and from among our elites stressed the issue of producing cultural products. They explained how many cultural products we are currently producing and how many products we should produce. And you did something in this meeting and I might give the necessary recommendations later on in a private meeting.

There is a second point in this regard. After we identify the kinds of cultural work that our cultural budget should be spent on, we should go after the content. In the end we might decide to produce films. For example, we might decide to produce ten revolutionary films, ten films that would promote our revolutionary values. Similarly we might want to publish a number of books. What should the content be? How strong should it be? What scholarly and artistic content should it contain? These things are very difficult and subtle.

In cultural work, do not go after ceremonial measures and gestures. Showcasing cultural work is not just futile: it is also harmful. In cultural work, it is necessary to go after original and significant work, which is currently a necessity for the country.

I have written down a point, which is related to the statements of Mr. President who said that he sees very little of the Foreign Minister because he is often on a trip. These activities on the international front should be appreciated, but there is a point in this regard: diplomacy is not limited to being active and arranging many different trips and meetings. These things are the body of diplomacy, which are of course important. But diplomacy has a soul and it is necessary to strengthen this soul in the diplomatic system. Of course, the gentlemen are working really hard. It is wrong to take their efforts for granted. I just want to offer a few recommendations. Imagine that we have arranged a summit, a meeting. What will come out of the meeting? In certain cases such meetings are very good. For example, the NPT summit, which was held in New York, was among the interesting and outstanding measures that were taken. Or some of the initiatives which have been reported to me - some of the meetings, some of the negotiations, some of the conferences - are significant. That is to say, it is obvious from the reports that good work has been done. However, certain other measures that have been adopted which should have been considered and analyzed in a careful way.

In diplomatic work, the orientation and content of such activities should be appropriate. All diplomatic measures should be centralized in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That is to say, these measures should be managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And as far as economic negotiations with other countries are concerned, I believe these negotiations and activities should be centralized in the department that is in charge of economic issues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

May God give all of us the opportunity to be able to do what is expected from us and what we will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment. In Dua Makaarim al-Akhlaq, we read, "Make me work on what You will question me about tomorrow." In the dua, we ask Allah the Exalted to make us work on things which we will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment. There are certain things that we will be questioned about. We must be successful as far as those things are concerned. May God help us move in this direction and fulfill our responsibilities. May God reward you and strengthen the atmosphere of hard work, love, selfless efforts and revolutionary spirit in our country on a daily basis.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings