The Government of the Syrian regime is moving toward approving a project that eliminates the General Directorate of Customs of the Ministry of Finance and replacing it with an updated version under the name of the General Authority of Customs. This move is considered a consolidation of the regime’s plan to privatize the general directorates with subsequent steps, to halt any future political solution in this context, to further militarize civil and commercial life by dissolving the customs police, and to attach its officers and members to the owners of the Ministry of Defense.
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The Syrian newspaper Al-Watan, which is close to the regime, published, on Sunday, the draft law that provides for the creation of the General Customs Authority, which will be an alternative to the General Customs Directorate. It said that it “enjoys legal personality and financial and administrative independence. It is linked to the minister, is based in Damascus, and has a branch in the state’s general budget.”
Economist Younis al-Karim saw the draft resolution as one of a series of steps through which the Syrian regime seeks to privatize state institutions by turning them into independent bodies and then hiring the private sector to carry out some of its primary functions by the 2016 participatory law. Thus, this will legislate a new political, and economic system in which the regime generates itself, while the opposition still looks at the issue of political power as formulated before 2010 and negotiates it politically.
Karim told Al-Modon that dissolving the customs police and attaching its officers and members to the owners of the Ministry of Defense would allow the Ministry to increase its military influence on traders, trade in the markets, and civilian life in general. This influence will also affect the military hierarchy and routine and many departments and branches of the ministry, thus generating more governmental and ministerial complications.
He said there were many questions in the decision-making process, the most important of which was where the new body would receive its information on traders and other business data. Is it from the Ministry of Finance as before, or through the Ministry of Defense? Will we see the Ministry of Defense roaming the markets to check the smuggling operations and imported goods? He pointed out that all these questions will be withdrawn by pressure on the Ministry of Finance, and therefore its role will recede at the expense of the militarization of trade in Syria.
This article was translated and 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.