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Government closely watches events in Aleppo, says PM

ALEPPO,(ST)_Prime Minister Dr.Wael al-Halqi, said the Syrian government is closely watching the events taking place in Aleppo province and obstacles that face its people as a result of the armed terrorist groups' acts.

The Premier, who visited on Monday Aleppo heading a ministerial delegation, told the economic, social, religious, and popular activists that the government is exerting every possible effort to ensure basic needs in the province as soon as possible.

He said the terrorist groups are targeting economic and development components across Syria, citizens' living conditions, and roads leading to Aleppo.

"Immediately after treating the problem of transport, fuel will be available in the province," said Dr. al-Halqi, noting that the amount, SP300 mln, has been allocated to buy aid, basic items and services' requirements.

SANA quoted the premier as saying: "In addition to the SP300mln, the government has allocated SP 140 mln to be added to the independent budget of Aleppo province plus SP400 mln to buy aid in the first half of 2013 ."

Further amount of the value SP6bln has been allocated by the government to get aid and food supplies (canned foods) available in Industry Ministry's stores.

"One aid cargo is scheduled to reach Aleppo via airplanes each week," said the PM, asserting that Syria has a surplus food supplies and incessantly imports its requirements as regards rice and wheat.

He clarified that the main problem in Aleppo is grinding wheat as this matter is complicated and requires ensuring oil derivatives through railways to feed power plants.

"Deliberately, the terrorist groups destroyed a number of grinders in Aleppo countryside causing shortage in flour," said Dr. al-Halqi, citing efforts being exerted to obviate the shortage through loading bread by airplanes to Aleppo.

He reassured Aleppo citizens that power outage problems will be solved with 24 hours, noting that power plantsare under repair.

As for exchange rate, the PM said: "Despite circumstances in the country, the exchange rate is stable due to good reserve of foreign currency."

On the other hand, SANA reported that the ministerial delegation briefed the activists on the actual situation in all sectors.    

It quoted Local Administration Minister, Omar Ghalawingi, as saying that restoring security and stability to all provinces in Syria and reconstructing infrastructure in affected areas as well as offering humanitarian aid to affected people are the ministry' priorities.

"The government has allocated SP30 bln in the 2013 budget to compensate affected citizens for damaged real estates," said Ghalawingi.

For his part, Electricity Minister, Imad Khamis, noted exceptional measures being adopter to re-operate  3 grids to feed Aleppo network to be in service within 24 hours.

"The ministry is cooperating with local community and civil society to re-run thermal plant to ensure electricity in Aleppo," said Khamis.

As for education, the ministers concerned asserted that the government has offered facilities to students at all stages to continue their study.

Regarding economic issues, Dr. Mohammad Zafer Mhabak, the Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, said: "Aleppo businessmen could get import certificate from other provinces, and we are going to increase the quantity of main imported items, especially rice, sugar and flour."

Concerning Industry, Adnan al-Sakhni, Industrial Minister, told the activists that the ministry has formed a committee to study needs to industrial cities to approve appropriate measures.

Moreover, Oil Minister stressed that oil derivatives are available to be sent to Aleppo, calling upon local community to cooperate with the ministry to guarantee the arrival of gas from gas station to thermal plant.

Labour and Social Affairs Minister noted the ministry's cooperation with the Higher Relief Committee and Aleppo governorate to ensure citizens' basic needs, adding that up SP250mln has been offered to 40 Charity Associations; 9 of them are in Aleppo.

State Minister for Red Crescent Affairs spoke about  efforts being exerted to offer humanitarian aid to affected people, while Health Minister asserted that good quantity of qualitative medicine was conveyed to Aleppo.

According to SANA, the activists called for backing Aleppo citizens' steadfastness in confronting the terrorist groups' savage aggression, eliminating the terrorists, and ensuring basic needs.

Basma Qaddour