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