Iran National Development Fund (NDF)

The Iran National Development Fund (NDF) is a sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 under the administration of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The primary objective of the NDF is to ensure the country's economic stability by investing in economic and productive sectors, safeguarding natural resource revenues for future generations, and transforming Iran's oil and gas-based economy into a more diversified and sustainable one.

The NDF was created by amending the Iranian constitution and replacing the Oil Stabilization Fund. The fund receives a certain percentage of the country's oil and gas revenues, which is allocated to various sectors of the economy. The NDF's assets were estimated to be around $40-60 billion, making it one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world.

The NDF operates under the supervision of the Supreme Leader of Iran and is governed by a board of trustees, which includes members from the government, the private sector, and academia. The NDF's investments focus on domestic sectors such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, and manufacturing, as well as foreign investments to diversify the country's assets and reduce dependency on oil revenues. The fund also provides financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and aims to create employment opportunities, especially for the youth.

However, the NDF's operations have been affected by various challenges, including international sanctions imposed on Iran due to its nuclear program and other geopolitical issues. The sanctions have limited the NDF's access to international markets and its ability to make foreign investments, thereby restricting the fund's growth and diversification potential. Moreover, Iran's economic difficulties and the depreciation of its currency have also impacted the NDF's operations and the value of its assets.

In recent years, the NDF has faced criticism for its lack of transparency, inadequate governance structures, and the possibility of political interference in its investment decisions. Some critics argue that the fund's resources have been used to finance the government's budget deficits or to support politically connected entities, rather than being directed towards long-term development and economic diversification. Despite these challenges, the NDF remains an important instrument for Iran's economic development and long-term stability.