Scores of Industrial Facilities Cancelled in Damascus Countryside Due to Terrorist Acts

 

The ongoing crisis in Syria has overshadowed all aspects of life and caused great losses to the state and the citizens alike. The country’s public and private properties have been the target of West-backed armed terrorist groups and mercenaries for the past 22 months during which industrial and production facilities were stolen, destroyed or at least closed as a result of terrorist attacks.

Industry, particularly in the terrorism-hit city of Damascus Countryside, which includes thousands of industrial, investment and vocational facilities, was greatly affected. This city was an excellent model of industrial zones, because of its distinguished geographic position, good infrastructure and its being close to marketing centers.

The number of industrial and vocational facilities licensed under the provisions of investment law in Damascus Countryside reached 16829 by the beginning 2012. With a capital of (SYP) 130 billion, these facilities provided 86.000 job opportunities. The value of their equipments and machines exceeded (SYP) 50 billion.

An analytic view on the impacts of the ongoing crisis on the industrial activities in the city of Damascus Countryside showed that the current crisis has resulted in a notable decrease in the number of job opportunities as well as sales by 50-60%.

Eng. Ibrahim al- Biqa’i, Director of Damascus Countryside’s Industry, said in his analysis that the volume of industrial investments was also affected as industrialists refrained from importing equipments necessary for scheduled projects fearing terrorist attacks.

“Safety conditions are law and raw materials don’t reach targeted facilities causing further increase of materials’ prices which in turn negatively reflected on the competitiveness of national products and on the exportation activities which decreased remarkably, al-Biqa’i said.

He referred to the difficulty of providing basic infrastructure necessary for industry including power supplies like electricity, diesel oil and fuel due to the criminal acts particularly in terrorism-affected areas. “Many industrial facilities were stopped and the rate of production was decreased at 50%,” he pointed out.

Emergency plan

These challenges necessitated a plan so as to carry on industrial production. Therefore, according to al-Biqa’I, the Directorate of Industry of Damascus Countryside in coordination with the Industry Ministry, the Chamber of Industry and the governorate of Damascus Countryside were keen to facilitate procedures of providing licenses for enterprises, accelerate e-government process and restructure the directorate so as to achieve proper, attractive and encouraging environment and provide facilitations, including the exemption of vocational and industrial enterprisers from income taxes and customs since the current crisis is considered as a no work era.

Hurrying in fixing the damaged infrastructure of the industrial zones and seeking stable foreign currency exchange price and assessing the damages caused by the terrorist groups’ acts are needed in addition to encouraging the work of industrial facilities through offering well-studied discount on the accumulated installments of social insurance and granting a new exemption period to pay due loans, said al-Biqa'i.

Regarding the protection of strategic industries and production, Eng. Al-Biqa’i pointed out that the directorate, in cooperation with concerned parties, is keen to specify the strategic industries which directly affect citizens’ life in order to transfer them to safer and more stable areas. They are also trying to ensure protection to industrial and vocational facilities located in the safe areas and to help those who want to move their industries from hot areas. In addition, these parties are also keen to protect the movement of production convoys of industrial facilities and keep working around the clock to compensate for the loss of production.

Al-Biqa’i added that the directorate has tasked committees within the city's districts and administrative units with ensuring necessary protection of industrial facilities and to keep in contact with the industrial directorate, chamber of industry and the administrative units to update them with new developments.

More than 78 facilities were cancelled during the past four years. Most of them were cancelled due to terrorist acts in the past two years.

The number of cancelled vocational projects reached 56 including textile, chemical, food and engineering industries. However, no specific figure is provided by the directorate on the terrorism-hit facilities, despite the fact that many of them were damaged, closed ore moved to safer areas due to the siege, the armed terrorist groups’ acts of sabotage, stealing, killing and kidnapping, the increase of the foreign currency exchange rate, high prices of raw materials and the absence of safety on highways.

Statistical data at the Industry Chamber of Damascus and its countryside revealed that 145 facilities were damaged, but concerned parties in the chamber acknowledged that the number is bigger.

H. Mustafa