Agriculture Minister Reviews Development Work in DPNER

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Eng. Ahmed Al- Qadri, in the presence of Minister of State for the Development Project in Northern - Eastern Region (DPNER), Najmeddine  Khreit,  and the committee concerned in the DPNER reviewed the activities carried out in the project over the past year. They also discussed the problems and difficulties hindered its progress, proposed a mechanism to overcome them and put a plan for the current year.

The minister called to coordinate the works of the project in cooperation with various relevant bodies to accomplish and evaluate the work periodically in the project and to exert efforts to improve the status of citizen in that area.
“The project, which was started by in 2008, achieved wide steps on the ground and laid important rules in the area, noting that its importance lies through the diversity of its components and the multiplicity of its services that contribute to accomplish its objectives by improving the capabilities of the society, activating its role in the sustainable development process and in mapping out development plans for the targeted villages,” the Minister of Agriculture pointed out.

“The meeting is intended to assess the achievements of the project and form the basis of the development to put strategies of work for the next phase according to a participatory approach in order to take advantage of the experience and the integration of work and in order to achieve the goal of integrated development,” Eng. Al -Qadri said.
For his part, Minister of State for the Eastern Region, Najmeddine Khreit, pointed the importance of exerting efforts for the development of the eastern region as the reservoir of Syria to secure its food basket, adding that his ministry have the powers to follow up the implementation of projects in the region and has a connection with all ministries and state institutions with respect to any project in the area.
“All ministries were asked to provide an idea of the projects and programs of work and rates of achievement, the obstacles and difficulties, indicating that rural development is one of the components for the development of that region to reach an acceptable level,” Eng. Al -Qadri added. He also stressed his willingness to cooperate with the various relevant bodies and provide the necessary support for upgrading that region through achieving sustainability of all its resources.
For his part, Director of the Development Project, Dr. Yasser Salameh, reviewed the works carried out in the project over the past year and the difficulties and problems faced the project, pointing out to the implementation of income-generating projects.

Director of the Rural Development at the ministry, Dr. Ra’ida Ayyoub, clarified that the Directorate had contributed through its work in the project to alleviate drought that hit the region where a socio-economic survey was carried out about the coming families, amounted 45, because of the drought and three work programs targeted to alleviate drought in addition to aid programs and distributing gifts, to 15453 families, of feed, seeds and sheep.

The participants recommended to establish a marketing association of buffalo products in Qamishli city and expand work with the International Center for Agriculture, implementation of modern irrigation, water harvesting in cooperation with the international organizations, implementation of 100 training units for the production of biogas and forming a joint working group of the projects funded by the International Fund for Rural Development (IFAD) to formulate a national project plan to encourage cultivation of Damascne rose.


Mapping out Appropriate Policies, Legislation for Agricultural Sector to Attract Investments

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Federation of the Syrian Chambers of Agriculture called to map out and develop appropriate policies and legislations for the agricultural sector to attract local, Arab and foreign investments to benefit from rewarding cash revenues that can be achieved in this sector.

Technical Adviser at the Federation of Chambers of Agriculture, Eng. Abdul Rahman Qrunfleh, pointed out that the role of the economic government management is reflected in its work and influence on the decisions of investors and directing them to the agricultural sector because it creates the conditions for self-development.

Eng. Qrunfleh called the government to help smallholders to overcome the obstacles they face in expanding their productive assets by providing economic incentives and creating an atmosphere of widespread agricultural investment, particularly that large-scale investments in agriculture and food production.

“The broad investment in the agricultural sector contributes to increase production and gains earned by exporters and generate employment opportunities as well as it encourages technology transfer. This mechanism encourages the owners of capitals to be of great interest in government investment in the agricultural sector as a critical factor in providing a suitable environment for private investment in this domain,” he pointed out.

“Developing the agricultural sector and food production has a significant impact on creating job opportunities, reducing poverty, promoting the national economy and converting it to an economy to be a generator of growth.  So it is necessary to support the trend towards giving priority to investments in the agricultural sector and improve their effectiveness because investment is one of the most effective strategies to combat unemployment, ensure food in the markets, and maintain low prices for consumers and this makes food accessible to everyone,” Eng. Qrunfleh clarified.

He explained that the Syrian economy is largely dependent on the agricultural sector and some 724,012 persons work in it. Some 14.32 percent of the total labor force in the country and a large proportion of the Syrian workforce are working in the agricultural manufacturing sector such as food industries and textile that based on cereals and oils, sugar, dairy, cotton, wool and leather, and this plays a crucial role in the incentive price to farmers.

Sh. Kh

CBS: USD Price at 82, 51 and Euro at 107, 69

DAMASCUS-(ST): The Central Bank of Syria set on Wednesday the purchase price of USD against SYP at 82, 51 and 83, 00 for selling.

According to the CBS bulletin of foreign currency exchange rate, the purchase price of Euro against SYP reached 107, 69 and the selling price reached 108, 45.

The price of gold for 21 carat reached SYP 4400 on Wednesday.


$ 710 mln Revenues of Free Zones in 2012

DAMASCUS, (ST) - General Director of the General Foundation of Free Zones estimated the damages hit the free zones, due to the actions of terrorist groups and robbery, by more than 250 million Syrian pounds.

The Director of the Foundation of Free Zones, Mohammed Katkout, said that the estimates are still initial in light of the available information in the free zones of Hisyah and Adra, whereas  the full damages in Aleppo free zone haven't been not been estimated yet.

"The foundation recorded last year revenues of $ 710 million, while the revenues were $ 884 million in 2011, adding that the invested capital in the free zones reached about $ 694 million in 2012  while it was in the previous year $ 837 million down the value of $ 143 million and the invested capital for foreign companies declined in 2011 to $ 85 million," the Director said.

Mr. Katkout pointed out that the number of investors, according to investment activity, reached to 1176 and according to  work contracts reached 966 investors while it was in the year 2011 according to the investment activity 1295 investor and according to work contracts reached 1074 investor, adding that the number of foreign companies reached 74 last year,   whereas the number reached  about 84 companies in the year 2011 and the number of workers in the facilities of free zones amounted to 6883 workers last year, up from the previous year by about 266 workers.

 "The foundation continues to provide its services, facilities and exemptions to investors to ensure appropriate conditions for work and investment," the Director added.

On addressing the problems facing  investors in the free zones and to provide facilities for them, Mr. Katkout pointed out that the foundation in coordination with the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade is currently studying the issue of transferring the investors' machinery  and their commodities  in the free zones to another places, and extending  the Year of manufacturing  for the vehicles and equipment placed in local consumption as well as to allow the owners of existing industrial facilities within the country to transfer their facilities to more safe areas, including free zones and investors in the free zones to pay work allowances in dollars or in Syrian pounds by prices determined by the Central Bank of Syria.

He also pointed to a number of decrees that help investors in their work and provide them with facilities and exemptions, including exemption to investors from taxes and fines imposed on them in the last year and previous years if they pay allowances owed them by the end of next July and allowing investors to sell what they left behind and settling their goods and vehicles before sale.

And about the appropriateness of the investment law in the free zones being applied now and its ability to respond to new economic changes, the Director said that the company had prepared a new draft law in the free zones, currently discussed by the economic committee, explaining that this law will help to attract new investments to the free zones and provide more features for industrial establishments, particularly the ones that use hi- tech and facilities in obtaining a license for the free zones.

The General Director of Free Zones said that the Ministry of Economy is currently studying the issue of industrial activity in the free zones and the possibility of making exemptions for their products if they achieved an added value of not less than 40 percent of the raw materials used in the manufacturing process.

Concerning the continuation of work in the free zone in Damascus after stopping the works of construction , Mr. Katkout clarified that the cabinet had  agreed to pursue the construction works in the free zone in Damascus since 2011 and settling the conditions of investors for the period they stopped work there.

The director underlined cooperation with investors in the free zones through the High Commission of Investment  in the Free Zones and to deal with all the problems and overcome the obstacles facing the work of these investors. He also confirmed the continued coordination, cooperation and communication with the Department of Customs through joint meetings to remove obstacles that hinder joint action, especially with regard to the work of investors in the free zones.

"There are draft agreements to establish Syria- Iraqi joint free zones on the borders in the Syrian regions of al –Yarobiyah and  Abu Kamal and the Iraqi regions of al  Rabiah and al Qa'im. The draft agreements are being studied at the moment by the governments of the two countries," Mr. Katkout concluded.

Sh. Kh.

Director of Export Promotion: Supplying Support for Exporters

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Director General of Development and Export Promotion  Agency, Ihab Ismandar, underlined that his Agency continues to provide direct and indirect support to Syrian exports and that there has been no radical change in the business strategy, concerning the Agency, issued two years ago, despite of  some modifications to this strategy in response to the conditions experienced by the country and the economic sanctions imposed on it.

 Mr. Ismandar  said the work had focused on the present circumstances to intensify the establishment of foreign exhibitions and to participate in international exhibitions to promote the Syrian products in addition to organizing meetings of Syrian businessmen with their counterparts on the sidelines of each exhibition to provide wider opportunities for business cooperation.

"The Agency has conducted over the past year several studies involving many products and markets in order to enhance the growth opportunities of Syrian exports to the establishment of some training courses in order to develop work export and help exporters to develop their abilities to penetrate new markets and strengthen their presence in traditional markets," he pointed out

"The Agency has focused on increasing and strengthening cooperation with the relevant authorities in order to coordinate on export development and exhibitions,  especially the Ministry of Economy and Trade, Federations of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Agricultural, exporters and joint  business councils, noting the efforts exerted by these parties in the development of export opportunities for Syrian products," Mr. Ismandar said.

"The Agency is planning to support the Syrian participation in 58 exhibitions of various Syrian products although it does not provide support for each Syrian exhibitions abroad but requests  of exhibitions' organizers are studied to provide support according to the possibilities," he explained.

"The Agency has done the bulk of the system of export in Syria through the creation of the Agency and the Exporters Association ,the creation of the Development Fund for Exports and the office of the rapid intervention to organize the process of export development and promotion of products, opening  new markets and supplying support and solving problems of exports in addition to providing financial support through the Fund's administrative body, financially independent," the director added.

"A legal final vision regarding Exports Credit Guarantee Agency and a Bank for Financing Exports and Imports was mapped out.  The private sector will take part in the financing of this project , explaining that the work is postponed at the moment due to the circumstances that the country is going through," he clarified.

"There is a plan to create several centers affiliated to the Agency in a number of areas in order to deliver services to exporters revealing that the idea of making the Syrian House in a number of world capitals is ready and waiting for the right conditions to work out where the Syrian House includes home sections for tourist and cultural promotion as well as economic and trade promotion," Mr. Ismandar noted.

 The Director confirmed that the total support given by the Agency since its creation until now reached about 600 million Syrian Pounds,  stressing that the Agency provides indirect support to exporters through the establishment of training courses and studies of markets and marketing opportunities for some of the products as well as to ensure the large part of the costs of  holding exhibitions abroad or participation in international exhibitions. The Syrian exporters have to seize this opportunity and offer Syrian products adequately of the various aspects of quality, price and specifications for this product to be able to strengthen its presence in foreign markets.

Sh. Kh.