Syria to resume crude oil export soon

Syria is due to export one million barrel of crude oil to Russia each month in exchange for cash or barter.

The Syrian Prime Minister, Dr.Wael al-Halqi, was quoted as saying during his meeting with Chairman and members of the Journalist Union's Executive Bureau on Monday that within 25 days we are going to resume crude oil exports.

 Dr. al-Halqi stressed the government's commitment to secure citizens' requirements despite sanctions imposed on oils and banks sectors.

Under the decree No.126 recently issued by President Bashar Al-Assad, the government has simplified measures to ensure all main categories to be up for grabs in the local market.

The result of these measures is tangible as citizens are still able to buy everything they need from any supermarket. But the problem is that the prices have tripled at the end of 2011 as the exchange rate jumped a lot (from 47SYP to 1$ - 65-73SYP to 1$) because of the crisis.   

In August, Deputy Premier for Economic Affairs led a delegation of cabinet's ministers to Russia where talks on ways of alleviating the economic impact of unfair sanctions on Syria were held.

Following the talks, Dr.Qadri Jamil told reporters: "We need oil, oil products. Shortages of these materials are making the situation in the country difficult."

He added that Syria would deliver oil and receive gasoline and fuel oil, noting that Syria is producing about 200,000 barrels per day.

Due to ban on Syria's oil export, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), officially, indicates a decrease in oil export reached about 44.4 per cent as it dramatically collapsed from 13.5 thousands ton in the first quarter of 2011 to 7.5 thousands ton in the first quarter of 2012.

Basma Qaddour

Importance of Fairs’ Industry

DAMASCUS, (ST)_ Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Dr. Mohamad Zafer Mahbek has recently opened at DamascusCastle the Documentation Pavilion of the Damascus International Fair. The event was held by the General Establishment of International Fairs and Markets.

“This sort of fairs reflects the people’s taste in this country and the importance of Syrian industries displayed in previous fairs. The goal of this specific fairs is to acquaint others with the remarkable economic, social, tourist and cultural sides in Syria”, the minister said. 

Those fairs, Dr. Mahbek pointed out, have great significance in the domain of marketing national products. The Documentation Pavilion of the Damascus International Fair links the originality of the past and the deep- rootedness of the Syrian industries reflected by the fairs’ activities, he added.

“The idea of the Documentation Fair is inspired by the Syrian civilized memory , particularly the ancient city of Damascus, its streets and markets”, Dr. Mahbek said.

The goal of this documentation Fair is to shed light on the role of the Damascus International Fair in supporting the national economy.

Sh. Kh.

Water Cooperation with UNICEF

DAMASCUS, (ST)_ Minister of Water Resources Eng. Bassam Hanna has assured the significance of coordination and cooperation between the UN organizations and UNICEF, particularly in the recent situation.

During his meeting with the Resident Representative of the UNICEF in Syria Yousef Wild Abduljalil, Eng. Hanna pointed out that the unfair sanctions imposed on Syria still have negative effect on the lives of the Syrian people. The Ministry, he noted, is concerned in offering services especially pure drinking water to citizens all over the Syrian governorates.

For his part, Abduljalil highlighted the important role being played by the Ministry of Water and called for a strong relation between the UNICEF and the Ministry to offer necessary aid to the children of Syria. He also reviewed the activities and the services offered by the UNICEF to Syrian children to return to their schools.

 The two sides agreed that the Ministry of Water Resources will present a detailed report regarding the Ministry’s needs and its urgent priorities to be ensured on time. 


Sh. Kh.

$45 bln to reconstruct devastated real estates in Syria

The actual cost of reconstruction in Syria couldn't be defined in the absence of official estimates of real estates damaged during the crisis. However, initial reports point out that Syria would need at least about $45 billion to rebuild devastated real estates, mainly destroyed by the foreign-backed terrorist groups, all over the county.

A well-informed Real Estate Affairs academic source, Ammar Yousef, told the "Syria steps" website that some 300.000 houses have been reported completely destroyed and 250.000 ones have been partly damaged, while the infrastructures of 400.000 houses (water, electricity, and telephone networks) are in need for repair."

Mr. Yousef underlined the necessity of reorganizing areas according to new real estate bases which have nothing to do with that in the past.

"Six months are enough to rebuild random housing. We could depend on either Chinese, Russian, or Iranian companies that have good experience in building cities." Yousef said.

  Basma Qaddour

Uncontrolled Price Increases under Crisis Worsen Citizens’ Life

The terrible impacts of the seventeen months old crisis in Syria have affected all aspects of life in the country and worsened  the economic condition of citizens whose life has been turned into a nightmare under a state of insecurity and instability, particularly in the areas where armed terrorist groups practice their terrorist acts.

The Syrians, particularly those with law or limited income have suffered deteriorating living standards caused by unstopped and fast increase of prices of all kinds of goods and by remarkable retreat in the employment process.

In an attempt to control the unjustified price increases in the Syrian markets, the Ministries of Economy and of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection have  providedbulletins  fixing the price of each product. However, the Consumer Protection Society has doubted the effectiveness of this procedure in the light of weak control and insufficient following up of implementation, in addition to the absent cooperation between consumers and concerned bodies. This was a source of  frustration for many Syrians .

“It is absolutely unacceptable, only a year and a half ago, the prices of goods were suitable to most people, but now the incomes are not enough to cover the increase of prices, besides, sometimes we can’t find what we need,”  Najwa,  a housewife in her 30s  said, pointing out that she doesn’t work and her husband is a state employee with around 18.000 (SYP) salary which is not enough under these circumstances. 

Khaled, a craftsman, said the prices of all household stuff, vegetables and fruits are higher compared to the past few years. Prices of some necessary goods, among people’s daily needs, have increased by 100%.

“The government controlling body doesn’t work efficiently enough and the procedures taken by the  Economy Ministry can’t prevent some traders to exploit the events taking place in our country,” Khaled said, noting that some traders monopolized certain goods with the purpose of increasing their prices.   

Siham, a state employee, thought that the issue of high prices and how to ease the outcomes of this problem must be a top priority to the government.

“The purchasing ability of consumers is deteriorating due to unstable prices,” she said referring to the unavailability  of some goods in rural areas.

“ Fearing the assaults of armed groups, farmers find difficulties in  getting agricultural goods and conveying them to the markets. This makes the amount of this kind of production small and gives other sellers the opportunity to manipulate prices. ”

Shadi,  a private sector employee, said “buying certain products needs a special budget to be put in advance according to one’s income. Products such as cleaners, eggs, meat, vegetables and fruits, witnessed unacceptable increase in their prices that fruits sometimes are considered by many as luxurious goods that limited income citizens cannot afford.” Besides, he added, there is often a difference in prices from a shop to another. 

 Market prices decided by wholesalers

Abdullah, a retailer, said that liberalizing  prices is the right move to enable consumers to buy the best kind of goods at lowest prices.”

According to Abdulla,  wholesalers are responsible for price increases, “because they themselves sell us the goods at high prices, so, we, as retailers, have to lessen the revenue margin in order to keep our customers, but still prices remain unsuitable to consumers.”

He thinks that both consumers and retailers suffer the same outcomes of high prices and top beneficiaries are wholesalers.

For his part, Chairman of the Consumer Protection Society Adnan Dakhakhni,  in a recent statement to the press, referred to the society’s limited role in controlling price increases, because it has no authority on traders or consumers. Its task is to share with the ministry of economy the studying of markets and to ease citizens’ economic burdens, “ particularly people with limited income.”

“ Today, weak income of citizens makes them feel the heavy burden of prices particularly in popular areas where most limited income people live and this is the part of society which is affected mostly by price increases ,“ Dakhakhni said.

On the importance of the price bulletins being issued by the Ministry of Economy, Dakhakhni said “Generally speaking, it is an attempt to draw up price indices which logically must not be passed over.  Consumers have to be cooperative and follow up these bulletins  and be aware not to pay more than the specified prices. The price bulletins have been studied and designed not to harm traders’ interests. However, in fact, these bulletins are unfortunately no more than papers printed and distributed to traders, without following up or control mechanism that compels traders to stick to listed prices.”

Dakhakhni thinks that the ministry of economy has to enhance the controlling body by increasing the number of monitors in the markets to prevent manipulation, pointing out that only 700 monitors are working all over the country, which is not enough to control the price increases properly.”

However, Dakhakhni optimistically said “the ministries concerned with  prices control have clear and promising visions for the coming era focusing on ensuring good quality products at suitable prices to citizens.”

We will see.


Hamda Moustafa