Government to Hold Accountable All Who Target Syrians' Livelihood

DAMASCUS, (ST) -  "The government will hold accountable all who attempt to target the livelihood of the Syrian people and will spare no effort to find new ways to monitor markets, curb prices, increase incomes and reduce general expenditure," asserted Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi.

The Premier's assertion came during a meeting he chaired on Saturday for the Economic Committee to tackle the situation of the national economy under the crisis, the Syrians have been suffering because of the unjust West-imposed economic sanctions.

Al-Halqi stressed that meeting the requirements of the Syrian citizens is the government's top priority, referring to the plans and programs which have been studies by the committee and which will be resulted soon in key economic decisions and procedures that support the national economy's potentials, protect the Syrian Pound in the market and improve the living standards of all categories of the Syrian society so as to achieve social justice.

 "The government will never allow any power in the world to undermine the steadfastness of the Syrian people in the confrontation of the current crisis, al-Halqi stressed.

He affirmed that the achievements of the Syrian Arab Army and its keenness to restore security and stability nationwide, in addition to the success of national dialogue by implementing the political program to solve the crisis will create a suitable ground for implementing the key economic procedures to be adopted by the government with the purpose of protecting the national economy, enhancing its ability to keep steadfast, and meeting the requirements of an all-out development.

Concerning the government's positive intervention in stock markets, Governor of the Central Bank of Syria Adib Mayyaleh said the aim is to protect the Syrian pound from speculations and ensure enough foreign currency to fund imports.

On the Syrian-Iranian economic cooperation, Mayyaleh affirmed that Iran will continue to support Syria until it surpassed the crisis.

He clarified that Iran will offer Syria two credit lines valued at 4 billion US dollars to fund Syrian imports and needs for oil and oil derivatives. In addition, the Iran will provide the Syrian side with an easy loan at 3 billion US dollars.

H. Mustafa      

Developing Industrial Sector for post-crisis stage, says al-Halqi

DAMASCUS, (ST) –" developing and improving the industrial sector is a priority for the government since simply because is regarded as the leveler of the development process and is essential to achieving growth in all sectors and meeting Syrians' requirements, "said Prime Minister Dr.Wael al-Halqi.

Al-Halqi's remark came during the cabinet's meeting  on Wednesday.

High on the meeting's agenda was  discussing the situation of industrial cities and zones.

 "over the past years, the growing of the industrial sector had a positive impact on industries and the job opportunities ,"underscored al-Halqi, adding  that this lead terrorists to target the Syrian national industry with the aim of destroying  it.

"actually, there is a need to exert strenuous efforts to revitalize national industries by improving the existing industrial cities, establishing new ones, overcoming obstacles hindering their work, and considering facilitations for industrialists,"al-Halqi affirmed.

During the meeting ,the prime minister reviewed the steps taken by the government to support the industrial sector, affirming that the government will continue this support by developing legislations and tackling issues affecting industrial cities.

The Regional Development Agency, for its part, reviewed the status of existing industrial cities and proposed mechanisms for expanding and developing them.

Attendees at the meeting  posed a number of proposals for establishing new industrial cities and zones .However, four new industrial cities and zones  in Idleb, Daraa, Homs and Sweida provinces were approved.

Al-Halqi also called for opening new bank branches, particularly for the Commercial Bank of Syria, in Homs province.

The Prime Minister stressed that there is a need  to launch  construction process  concerning  the new industrial cities and zones  immediately, saying that the upcoming stage requires mobilizing potentials for  the post-crisis stage.

 

R.Sawas

Central Bank of Syria to Sell 100 Million Euros

DAMASCUS,(ST)_ The Central Bank of Syria on Sunday notified licensed  banks and exchange institutions on selling  100 million euros, according to set quantities and prices at  the central bank  as from  May 22 . 

The governor of the Central Bank of Syria Dr. Adib Mayaleh said  that the procedure comes within the positive intervention process carried out  by the central  bank  to bring back exchange rate to reasonable levels. 

"The exchange rate the irregular market recently  dealt with is unreal  and only aims to exploit citizens needs but enables  foreign exchange traders to achieve illegal gains, " Mayaleh said . 

He stressed   that the  Central  Bank will continue to pursue  irregular market dealers , and  reduce their activity , adding  that positive  intervention in the market  will continue by injecting foreign exchange to ensure exchange rate  stability and  that the central bank still have enough reserves to defend the exchange rate and ensure the basic needs of the country of  foreign currency.

 

T. Fateh 

Agriculture Minister: Preparing a Strategy for Marketing Crops

Damascus, (ST) - Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Ahmed Qadri, discussed with the working team in charge of preparing a strategy of agricultural marketing in cooperation with the ministries concerned and other institutions the proposals that contribute to the development of an integrated marketing strategy at the level of Syria to take into account all aspects of the crop in terms of cultivation, transportation and marketing.


The participants underlined the need to form a working team at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture dealing with the management of the agricultural sector towards marketing including the other concerned institutions and other relevant associations and organizations.

The task of this team is to put a common vision that helps to fill the gaps in the current strategy and helps creating a comprehensive marketing climate of the crops and setting up organized markets at the level of each the governorate linked to an accurate information base for each crop, giving a greater role for the agricultural guidance bureau and marketing programs, developing  new methods of marketing that bridge the gap between the producer and the consumer and giving importance to the crops of organic origin of high economic feasibility.

They also suggested the need to give a role to the private sector in this process in cooperation with the government agencies, giving the agricultural industrialization a greater importance , establishing the markets in places of production and not to allow the exploitation of the producer by giving him the right price.

Eng. Qadri explained that the role of the Ministry of Agriculture in this framework is to provide help, whereas the ministry is not the marketing body but works to help farmers to produce agricultural product with good specifications and creates the ground for setting up markets through the organization of agricultural fairs.

The minister pointed to the importance of gaining expertise of all the parties to prepare an integrated marketing strategy that takes into account the specifications of the Syrian and the type of product through the development of work programs for each phase of production, noting that Syria now has a long history in the production and the marketing of strategic crops.

"We now have a surplus of the most crops, such as citrus fruits, olives and vegetables and this requires creating the suitable groundwork for marketing optimally and seek to get rid of the mechanism to be followed in the marketing process," the minister added.

Eng. Qadri said that soon we will have a registered and certified organic product, calling for the need to expand in this sort of farming.

Sh. Kh.

Egypt 'suffering worst economic crisis since 1930s'

Egypt is suffering its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a former finance minister of the country and one of its leading economists have warned, according to the Guardian.

In terms of its devastating effect on Egypt's poorest, the country's current economic predicament is at its most dire since the 1930s, Galal Amin, professor of economics at the American University in Cairo, and Samir Radwan, finance minister in the months after Egypt's 2011 events, said in separate interviews with the Guardian.

Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt has experienced a drastic fall in both foreign investment and tourism revenues, followed by a 60% drop in foreign exchange reserves, a 3% drop in growth, and a rapid devaluation of the Egyptian pound. All this has led to mushrooming food prices, ballooning unemployment and a shortage of fuel and cooking gas – causing Egypt's worst crisis, said Amin, "without fear of making a mistake, since the 30s".

"Nobody cares about the poor now," Amin said. During comparable crises in the late 1960s, the mid-70s and the late 80s, Amin and Radwan argued that Egypt's poorest were variously shielded from absolute hardship either by state subsidies, overseas aid, comparatively low unemployment, or by remittances from expatriates in the Gulf states. But now one in four young Egyptians is unemployed, household remittances are low, and there is a shortage of subsidized goods.

"You are talking about nearly half of the population being in a state of poverty," said Radwan, a development economist. "Either in absolute poverty or near-poor, meaning that with any [economic] shock, like with inflation, they will fall under the poverty line." Currently, 25.2% of Egyptians are below the poverty line, with 23.7% hovering just above it, according to figures supplied by the Egyptian government.

For most Egyptians, rising food prices are the most critical problem. Some goods have doubled in price since last autumn – catastrophic for the quarter of families that already spend 50% of their income on food.

For Hoda Goma, a Cairo architect, the situation is having a serious effect on her two eight-year-old sons. "They're getting worse at school," she said. "They're getting ill more often. They have these black patches under their eyes and their teeth have got worse."

It is down to their diet, Goma explained. She cannot afford to feed them what they need. Six months ago she spent half her salary on food. Now she says it is closer to four-fifths – not because she is earning less, but because rising food prices show no sign of slowing down.

 

"Prices are on fire," said grocer Walid Ali. Just last week, Ali would buy a kilo of mandarins for four Egyptian pounds – or 40 British pence – from wholesalers, and sell them for six (60 British pence). "Now I buy them for six and sell them for eight."

As a result, consumers are either buying less, or not buying at all. "It's impossible," said Ali. "I've lost half my customers. People can only afford to buy basic foods." At his two-storey market in central Cairo, the top floor is now entirely empty. Neighbours said all stall-holders on the upper level had been forced to close in recent months.

Inflated food prices are not a new phenomenon in a country that is the world's biggest importer of wheat, where the population has long risen more rapidly than production, and where up to half of the produce rots in the heat on the way to market. But the recent rate of inflation has been significantly raised by Egypt's disastrous economic predicament.

Most problematically, the value of the Egyptian pound has fallen by 12% against the dollar since December. For two years, Egypt's central bank had used its foreign currency reserves to arrest the slide – but with those reserves having shrunk by around 60% since 2011, the bank had to abandon the tactic last winter. As a result, the pound's value has this year fallen further and faster. In turn, it has become much more expensive to import foreign goods – catastrophic for a country that buys in 60% of its wheat, and whose farmers also often rely on imported fertiliser, fuel and animal feed.

R.S