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Cabinet Approves Agricultural Fund Budget

DAMASCUS (ST)_ Prime Minister Wael Al-Halqi reviewed yesterday the government's efforts to help overcome the negative impacts of the current economic situation on the life of the Syrians.

During a Cabinet meeting, Al-Halaqi asserted that the government is working hard to provide the Syrian citizens with their basic needs of food and oil derivatives.

Efforts to keep the (SYP) exchange rate stable and to fund local exports were also discussed.

Ministers of electricity, health and agriculture briefed the cabinet on their development plans for 2013.

Based on a memorandum, submitted by Subhi Al-Abdullah, Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, the Cabinet approved the estimated budget of the Agricultural Production Fund and its work plan for 2013.

The Cabinet also decided to form a committee to be tasked with following up cooperation issues between Syria and Iran, and overcoming the administrative obstacles facing this cooperation.


Ibrahim Zaaboub

SP 3,612 Bln Loans Granted By SB

Damascus (ST)- The Saving Bank has announced that the number of granted loans to low income citizens reached at  “12338” loans since early  September to Dec.10th with total value at SP 3 bln, SP 612,103 mln.

"the granted loans widely welcomed by governmental employees in all Bank branches across Syria,"stated the bank.

" the Bank seeks to give loans to all who submitted their applications, but the delay concerning granted loans due to the pressure of various branches especially in Damascus,"concluded the statement.

Nada Haj Khidr

PM inspects youths’ housing projects in Damascus countryside

DAMASCUS,(ST)_Prime Minister, Dr.Wael al-Halqi, was briefed on the stages of  carrying out a project including 26800 housing units for youths in the new Dimas suburb, in Damascus countryside.

SANA reported on Tuesday that a foundation stone for the housing project’s fifth stage, which would cost SP.20 billion, was laid under the patronage of the Premier.

The 750-housing block project would contain mini-malls, schools, infrastructure, gardens, and further services to meet subscribers 'needs.   

Addressing the projects’ supervisors, called on the Housing General Establishment to deliver the houses to subscribers on time to build trust between the two sides (subscribers and the establishment).

On the other hand, the PM visited another housing project in “Qudsaya” suburb where 515 housing blocks on an area of 240 hectors are to be built.

As many as 1819 housing units plus other services utilities are allocated in this project, according to SANA.

The PM stressed that ensuring suitable houses at acceptable prices for youths comes within the government’s priority.

During his inspection visit to the projects in Dimas and Qudsaya suburbs, said that process of building is going forward despite big challenges that face Syria at all levels.

He stressed that the government is exerting every possible effort to guarantee a good living standards  to the Syrian citizens and provide them with food items and oil derivatives, noting that Syria’s strategic reserves is sufficient.

Dr.Halqi also underlined the necessity of using alternative power in the housing projects.

Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs, Local Administration Minister, Housing Minister, Damascus Country side Governor, Director-General of the Housing General Establishment, and Director-General of Military Housing Establishment accompanied the premier in his inspection visit.

Basma Qaddour  

Government’s Efforts to Alleviate Suffering of Terrorism victims in Aleppo Discussed

DAMASCUS, (ST)- Alleviating the suffering of the people of Aleppo is an urgent need and one of the top priorities of the Syrian government’s policy, said Prime Minster Wael al-Halqi during a ministerial meeting on Sunday, dedicated to tackling the economic situation in the country and ways of providing supply services to victims of the crisis.

The Premier stressed the need to take immediate procedures to back the steadfastness of the people of Aleppo and meet their basic needs, particularly bread, supply materials, gas, and oil derivates as soon as possible to ease the suffering caused by the armed terrorist groups’ attacks.

The ministerial meeting discussed ways of eliminating obstacles hindering the electricity and oil ministries’ efforts to provide Aleppo with electricity, gas and oil derivatives through safe routes and with the participation of civil society parties.

The meeting also tackled the situation of education in Aleppo and the efforts exerted by the ministries of education and higher education to provide students with alternatives that help them continue their study.    

 Discussing the situation of the relief efforts and humanitarian assistance provided to Aleppo, the Prime Minster asked the Ministry of Social Affairs and the State Ministry for Syrian Arab Crescent Affairs to prepare food baskets, medical kits, blankets, household materials  and send them to terrorism-hit families in Aleppo.

Coordination between government and national parties' representatives to enhance steadfastness

In another development, Premier al-Halqi stressed the importance of coordination between the government and representatives of the Syrian national parties to work as a team to enhance elements of the Syrian people’s steadfastness in the face of conspiracies and to consolidate national unity and reconciliation in order to get Syria out of the current crisis.

During his meeting with Secretary General of the Syrian Communist Party (Unified) Hanin Nimir and member of the Party’s Politburo, al-Halqi affirmed the need to reactivate the role that can be played by the National Progressive Front’s parties, people’s organizations, vocational unions and civil society organizations  in protecting public and private properties, undermining terrorism, and keeping the distinguished diversity of the Syrian society which is the  main defender of Syria’s security, stability and prosperity.

During the meeting, the economic situation and the living conditions of the Syrians were discussed, besides the government’s procedures to combat administrative and financial corruption and reform the public sector.  

For his part, Nimir commended the government’s efforts to enhance the steadfastness of the national economy  . “Syria is facing a political, military, economic and social battle,” Nimir said, praising the role of the Syrian army forces in confronting terrorism and restoring security and stability to Syria.

He reiterated the necessity of enhancing national reconciliation spirit among the Syrians so as to overcome the crisis.


Priorities of Economic Reform as Viewed by Private Sector

The Syrian Business Council (SBC) has recently published an all-out report on “Priorities of Economic Reform as Seen by the Private Sector” .

The report, which is prepared by the Council in cooperation with the UN Development Program (UNDP), includes the recommendations of the dialogue session held by the Council on vital issues aiming to support the government’s hoped-for economic reform efforts.

In his introduction to the report, Haitham Subhi Joud, Chairman of the Council’s Board referred to the growing role of the private sector in socio-economic development and its contribution to the growth of national income and the achievement of balanced development.

 He stressed the necessity of providing this promising sector with suitable environment for development as it seeks a bigger role in building national economy within a supportive environment and a clear participatory view that provides the sector with the necessary infrastructure as well as the legislative, legal and administrative ground.

“Cooperation between the public, private and joint sectors played an effective role in attaining sustainable development,” Joud said, pointing out that the role of the civil society has exceeded charity works and development initiatives to the role of a full partner in building the country, and “this is the case with the SBC.”

The issuance of the report, which doesn’t include all reform-linked issues, coincided with the government’s announcement of new legislations and facilitations that serve suggestions provided in the report, which will hopefully be a reference to help the government specify priorities for the private sector to go ahead with economic reform and enhance partnership with this sector in decision making.

The report doesn’t specify problems or call for specific reforms. It proposes a view on possible solutions and presents the private sector as a full partner of the government as regards duties and rights.

The report outlined some challenges facing economic activities, mainly corruption, bureaucracy, inactive legislative, structural and legal environment, the non-dealing with the public sector as a real partner in development, poor infrastructure and undeveloped customs and taxes system.

These challenges, according to the report, necessitate the activation of continuous objective dialogue between legislators and decision-makers on the one hand and all parties concerend in the business sector.

  The priorities of the hoped-for reform from the point of view of the real actors in the business sector are underlined by the report as including, human resources, judiciary, partnership with the government, investment and the sectors of finance, tourism, services, health, IT, construction, information, advertisement, industry, agriculture, energy and trade. 

The report suggested the enhancement of an education system based on continuous training and encouragement of invention and excelling. It also suggested developing the infrastructure system and empowering the private sector to invest in this field. In addition, administrative and institutional reform, capacity building, transparency, providing equal opportunities, reactivating competitiveness, banning manipulation and protecting trade and intellectual property were also among the report’s main suggestions.  

Applying the added value taxes, cancelling some ministries and merging some others are also seen by the report as important. In addition, empowering the civil society and merging business organizations within a legislative organizational framework and under an institutional umbrella.

 The report, which didn’t deal with the current circumstances in the county, concluded its review of priorities of economic reform by stressing that the proposals which enjoy unanimity and acceptance by the government and the parties concerned in economy and business, must be implemented according to timetables and suitable performance standards.

The SBC is a nongovernmental organization with diverse membership and specializations. It was established with the objective of supporting sustainable development in Syria through entrepreneurship projects, exchange of ideas as well as cultural and social interaction.

H. Moustafa