As­sad un­veils $7B bud­get for 2019, mostly ‘in­vest­ment’

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - BUSINESS -

Da­m­as­cus: Syria’s pres­i­dent Thurs­day an­nounced a bud­get for 2019 of just over $7 bil­lion, of which around a third has been al­lo­cated to in­vest­ment pro­jects in­clud­ing in ar­eas rav­aged by the war.

Seven years into Syria’s grind­ing civil war, the Da­m­as­cus gov­ern­ment has ex­pelled rebels and ex­trem­ists from large parts of the coun­try with Rus­sian mil­i­tary back­ing.

Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad is­sued the bud­get after the Par­lia­ment passed the bill Mon­day.

Next year’s bud­get would amount to 3.8 tril­lion Syr­ian pounds ($7.3 bil­lion), state news agency SANA said. From that, 1.1 tril­lion pounds would be al­lo­cated to “in­vest­ment,” SANA said.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ma­mun Ham­dan said 443 bil­lion pounds would go to “in­vest­ment pro­jects in lib­er­ated ar­eas, or to which the Syr­ian army brings back sta­bil­ity,” SANA quoted him as say­ing.

The min­is­ter also said that 700 bil­lion Syr­ian pounds would be spend on elec­tric­ity pro­jects, with­out men­tion­ing in which ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to state tele­vi­sion.

Ham­dan told news­pa­per AlWatan that the pro­jected deficit for next year was 946 bil­lion pounds.

The regime this year ex­pelled rebels and ex­trem­ists from the cap­i­tal’s sur­round­ings and the south of the coun­try, bring­ing these ar­eas back un­der its con­trol.

A large chunk will go to ‘in­vest­ment pro­jects in lib­er­ated ar­eas’

It has also threat­ened to re­take the north­west­ern re­gion of Idlib on the Turk­ish bor­der, but the area is for now pro­tected by a shaky buf­fer zone deal struck be­tween Rus­sia and rebel-backer Turkey in Septem­ber.

The 2018 bud­get was of 3,187 bil­lion pounds.

The war has killed 360,000 peo­ple and dis­placed mil­lions since start­ing in 2011 with the bru­tal re­pres­sion of anti-regime protests. –

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