On Monday, President Bashar al-Assad met with the government team tasked with confronting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its repercussions. He discussed the latest developments in confronting the pandemic and its effects on the daily lives of citizens, particularly in terms of living conditions.
Assad said that this meeting comes after several weeks of applying the precautionary measures and several months of the pandemic’s spread and its deep and clear effects that accelerate rapidly, particularly since there is no tangible sign of anything that can confront this pandemic.
He said that Syria immediately carried out a calculated series of procedures to protect citizens, including imposing a partial curfew across the country. The response and awareness of citizens, in addition to the swift actions of the state, played a main role in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
The president noted that these procedures had several negative effects, primarily on the economic side, as the burdens of life increased for citizens.
“So, when the pandemic seemed that it is not a temporal issue, it was inevitable to start a gradual returning towards the normal life to ease the unrepresented pressure on citizens, and a big number of officials in the world announced that we have nothing now except the option of adapting with the existence of that pandemic,” he said.
The president went on to say that, “Concerning the procedures, we want openness, but a controlled openness, which means that the citizen should assume part of the responsibility. Previously, the state assumed those measures to protect the citizen, but now, when we start openness, the biggest responsibility will be put on citizen through daily individual behavior and we should implement regulations and then observe them, and we will go towards adopting flexible procedures.”
Assad said that along with the health challenge, there is also the economic challenge that we face after a constant war for over nine years and an unjust embargo on the people, with the coronavirus pandemic coming to create a state of global economic self-isolation and recession.
He said that in addition to all that, there are some greedy individuals who exploited this pandemic and created a state of monopoly to make ludicrous earnings at the expense of citizens by raising prices.
He said, however, that opening marketplaces for farmers to sell their products directly to citizens in cities, which has happened in several areas recently, in addition to curbing transgressions and increasing penalties for those who manipulate prices and bills and trade in subsidized goods, will create a deterrent against the greed of some merchants and manipulators who exploit citizens’ needs, stressing the need for the local communities to participate with the relevant establishments to monitor the regulation of prices.
Assad said the government must be more dynamic in dealing with these issues and act in a quick yet calculated manner to bolster the role of the public sector establishments, whether by grating them the necessary authority or changing their bylaws, so that these establishments can be more flexible and capable of positive intervention, which would have quick positive results and impact on citizens as soon as possible.
He added that, “If we were able to realize short outcomes, which means the price of the peasant with calculating the profits, I believe that we would end the basic problem of prices, the other factor remains which is the purchasing capacity.”
“So, there should be an immediate proposal for everything related to the prices… the issue of putting bills, the subject of cheating, trafficking with the supported materials, there should be decisive and hard penalties for this matter,” the president said.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.