Samer Khalil, the Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade in the government of the Assad regime, appeared in an interview on Syrian television. During the interview, he discussed several new decisions that addressed industrialists’ and producers’ concerns. He also stressed that the past year 2022, was the worst economic year in 50 years, according to his own estimates.
According to the minister, who is the head of the regime government’s economic committee, a new package of economic decisions will be issued soon, which builds upon previous decisions. He claims that the package touches on the concerns of industrialists and producers and that the regime works to serve the production sector. It does so because the regime is not only supportive of the economy but also of the Syrian pound itself.
Khalil considered that the year 2022 was the worst economic year for the entire world in over 50 years. He mentioned several factors that led to this poor performance, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war. He stated that the Syrian economy was not immune to these global economic pressures, in addition to “war, siege, and sanctions,” in his words.
Despite these factors, the minister claimed that Syria has been able, despite all circumstances — especially those that have transpired in recent months — to maintain a certain level of stability of the exchange rate, despite its rise. This performance, comparatively favourable against other countries, is due to the existence of a diversified economy. He claimed that the latest package of measures aims to limit price increases and exchange rate increases and develop and enhance production capacities.
Khalil touched on a meeting held recently by the head of the regime, Bashar al-Assad, with the Economic Committee. During the meeting, a supposedly discussed the need to support Syria’s productive sectors. Khalil also presented a package of recently issued decisions, including supporting the Central Bank of Syria’s proposal to add certain products to the list of subsidized products while removing others.
Khalil discussed decisions related to financing through licensed exchange companies and an amendment to the articles of the Real Estate Sales Law. The latter contemplated raising the payment rate of an amount through bank accounts from 15 to 50% of each real estate property’s value. With regard to vehicle sales, the amendment provided for payment of a given amount by bank transfer.
Khalil pointed to allowing banks to buy foreign exchange from individuals at the traded price, stressing that there is no responsibility on any citizen in relation to holding foreign exchange. The citizen will not face harassment during the exchange process. Khalil also denied that the regime’s government would issue a new banknote of 10,000 pounds. Rather, he indicated that such decisions are not issued in secret because they require application in the open market.
The Central Bank of Syria of the Syrian regime issued Decision No. 144 on Thursday, under which it adopted a new exchange rate bulletin called the Remittances and Exchange Bulletin. The decision allowed banks and exchange companies to receive the values of incoming foreign remittances and disburse cash.
The Central Bank of Syria raised the exchange rate of the US dollar against the Syrian pound to 6,650 Syrian pounds, while the exchange rate of the euro reached 7,328 Syrian pounds.
Khalil indicated that allowing the entry of Syrian trucks to Iraq facilitates and increases exports at a lower cost. On the decision to allow imports from Saudi Arabia, Khalil explained that healthy export trade to Saudi Arabia exists, the majority of which consists of agricultural products. For other products, the cost of importing them from Saudi Arabia is lower than from other countries, as well as the cost of shipping. Another positive factor is the speed of arrival for imported products.
The minister claimed that the new government measures aim to facilitate exports and imports, in addition to simplifying financial and banking procedures and giving more flexibility to finance the supplies of some economic sectors. He stated that remittances are not money transferred physically but a written obligation, and therefore there is no way to deliver them in foreign exchange.
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.