Talk of reconstruction in Syria is no longer a secret among the regional and international economic circles, but the topic has expanded in recent months to become one the chief concerns of these communities, in preparation for what experts and observers now see as the ineviitable next stage in the future of Syria.
In fact, many private companies may actually have begun the preparation for this phase, while some concerned international institutions have launched work programs to keep up with these preparations for the start of the reconstruction phase.
To keep up with these efforts, and to provide a comprehensive framework that brings together Syrian businessmen with their counterparts from the region and the broader international community to discuss the options and possibilities available for development, and to develop a network of relations between the Syrian businessmen and the international and regional partners, the International Exhibitions company (IFP Group) launched the 'Forum of Syrian Businessmen' which kicked off on Wednesday 4 of June at the Biel Exhibition Center in Beirut, simultaneously with the nineteenth session of "Project Lebanon" exhibition.
The forum opened with a special seminar attended by the chief of economists and the Director of Economic Development and Globalization in ESCWA, Abdullah al-Dardari, who supervises the National Agenda for the Future of Syria project to assess the development needs in Syria, along with a group of Syrian experts involved in the project.
The former Minister of Finance, Economy and Commerce, Demyanos Qattar, directed the seminar which was organized by a group of Syrian, Arab and foreign businessmen, and was attended by representatives from more than 50 Syrian companies and enterprises, including the Syrian Union of Commerce Chambers.
Dardari spoke briefly at the opening of the National Agenda for the Future of Syria project, recalling that the project started with a group of young Syrians working with ESCWA, adding that the number of experts participating in the project is now at about 300 experts and will reach 1,000 in the near future.
In his presentation of the state of Syrian economy, Dardari explained the economic bleeding suffered by Syria as a result of the crisis, noting that the Syrian economy has lost almost half of its GDP since the outbreak of the crisis, and that damage includes all sectors in different proportions.
He pointed out that the estimated cost of reconstruction and development ranges between $165 and $200 billion, of which about $60 billion will be in public investment, which is supposed to be expended by the state.
Dardari also started to introduce a number of financing options and the priorities for spending and investment, discussing a number of fundamental questions facing the decision-makers at the start of the reconstruction phase.
He concluded that despite the dark outlook of the current situation, rebuilding Syria remains possible and necessary, saying there is no other option for the entire Arab region. He pointing to the possibility of achieving this, using figures and studies which suggest that the decline has almost stopped in the first quarter of the current year.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer