We saw yesterday that the Syrian government is already busy at work planning for the post-war period. Economic reforms and improvements are vital to the rebuilding of the nation after this extensive five-year attack against the Syrian people and infrastucture.
Thanks to the cartoonish propaganda they are subjected to, day in, day out, most Americans probably don’t even realize that Syria has an actual government and a parliament, which debates such mundane questions as the budget. Many probably believe that Syria is just some comic-book dictatorship where President Assad sits on his throne wielding a whip and making unilateral decisions about everything that goes on. Mostly about the best way to barrel-bomb children and puppies into submission.
In reality, Syria is a Parliamentary type country, of the European model. In which the day-to-day government functions are performed by an elected Parliament; and the President of the country acts as the Head of State and Commander of the Armed Forces.
This wiki page provides a current list of Syrian government officials and their party affiliations. Yesterday we talked about Finance Minister Maamoun Hamdan, who is trying to patch together a working budget without imposing excessive taxation on the population. I couldn’t find a wiki page or photo for Hamdan. If you google his name, there are lots of other M. Hamdans out there (various spellings), but if you see a photo of a guy dressed in full Arab regalia and wearing a keffiyeh, that probably isn’t him. As you can see from the photo above, Syria, like Lebanon, is visually a “European” country. The nation’s officials wear suits and ties (or business dress for the women).
Which again accentuates (and all of this is just my sidebar, not a part of Gafurov’s story) the horrendous irony of the European nations backing America’s vicious war against a secular Arab state. Using, as cannon fodder, the most barbarously medieval Saudi-inspired sociopaths who could only be dreamed up by Hollywood producers looking to make their next grotesque “serial killer” movie, and debating among themselves, what is the cruelest way for our hero to dispatch his victims?
Europe claims to stand for its own traditions and values, and yet willingly enlisted in a Jihadist Crusade against an essentially “European” nation. All part of America’s grudge-match against secular Baathists who happen to control oil and gas routes of the Middle East.
But returning to Gafurov: Where we left off, Hamdan was objecting against imposing ever new and creative ways to tax working people; and trying to figure out the best way to use very tight funds to rebuild Syrian businesses and infrastructure. The Syrian government’s Budget Committee is faced with very practical tasks, including cutbacks on administrative overhead expenses. And, like every country in the world, a certain amount of money is lost to simple corruption. The general consensus is that the Syrian economy is in bad shape, but is not in catastrophic shape!
Foreign Trade Minister Adib Mayyaleh bases his plan to restore the Syrian economy on small and medium-size businesses. During the past year, Syrian manufacturers and enterprises were allowed to import raw materials on their own, without going through the government. This helped to stabilize the manufacturing sector by making sure it was supplied with the energy resources it needed, during this very dodgy era of war and sanctions.
Adib also proposes, as part of his plan, to work out export deals with “friendly” countries such as Russia. Europe’s loss is Russia’s gain, since the Europeans apparently backed the wrong dog in this fight.
Syrian Banking Sector
The Syrian banking sector suffers from the same misfortune as its Russian counterpart: Various factors, including international sanctions, have left it with insufficient means to issue substantial credits to enterprises. In other words, there are no “deep pockets”, and every loan is risky. On the other hand, Syria, like Russia, is rapidly adapting to this situation and coming up with various creative techniques to provide credit services to businesses and to properly insure investments.
A wide-ranging reform of the Syrian banking sector is already underway. There is a mix of state-owned and private banks. The proper “complementary relationship” between these two sectors is being discussed actively. The administrative structures of the Finance sector lack an adequate amount of qualified employees needed to function. Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis has called upon the government-sector banks “to take direct and decisive steps” to solve the problem of issuing credits, which are needed for restoration and development projects. Parallel with this, new laws are being passed to deal with the credit situation and help to regulate this area of the economy. A special project is in the works to legally liquidate, in stages, certain problematic debts. All of this requires a re-capitalization of the banks. The rules of trade and insurance arbitrage are also to be simplified. All of this is done with the purpose of stimulating the Financial Services industry. But also invites certain risks, naturally. But in a country which partially lies in ruins, rebuilding will not be possible without the joint efforts of the government, the private sector, and the consumers themselves.
As President Assad himself noted, in a speech about the transition from war time to economic development: “The process of rebuilding, and the accompanying economic growth should not be left until the end of the crisis. In reality, the goverment has already started to create all the necessary conditions which will further these goals and stimulate investments in these spheres.”
[to be continued]