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“Operational” Budget, not “Development” One

A preliminary analysis of the 2024 state budget reveals a minor increase in government investment spending, Hashtag Syria writes.
“Operational” Budget, not “Development” One

During the current months, the Syrian government is preparing to approve the state’s general budget for the year 2024. The outputs of the work of the Supreme Council for Economic and Social Planning on the budget indicate that the Syrian government’s planned expenditure for 2024 will amount to approximately 35,500 billion SYP. This budget will be allocated around 75% for current expenditures and 25% for investment expenditures.

This proposed budget represents a significant increase compared to the 2023 budget, which was originally set at 16,550 billion SYP. This increase amounts to an apparent rise of approximately 114%. It’s important to emphasize that this increase is “virtual” in nature, as its real value is linked to its actual purchasing power within the economy and its capacity to meet the needs of public administration, including salaries, operational expenses, and investments.

However, despite the consistent inflation of the state budget figures, the Syrian economy continues to deteriorate. The purchasing power of consumers is declining, the disparity between the cost of living and general wage levels is widening, the public sector’s performance remains stagnant, economic growth shows little improvement, and monthly inflation rates remain uncontrolled.

A preliminary analysis of the 2024 state budget reveals a minor increase in government investment spending, about 7%, from the 2023 budget, where investment spending represented about 18% of total public expenditure. In contrast, current expenditures for 2024 have decreased by approximately 7% compared to 2023, when they constituted roughly 82% of total public spending.

Taking into account exchange rate fluctuations in recent years, the government’s policy of reducing energy subsidies, and international economic and political conditions, it can be predicted that:

  1. This budget, like its predecessors, primarily serves as an operational budget to sustain the daily economic functions, offering little more.
  1. It lacks the character of a “development” budget since it primarily focuses on current expenses rather than investments. A significant portion of the budget goes toward subsidies, while the remainder is eroded by inflation.
  1. It offers little “value-added” since the government struggles to manage the exchange rate and inflation issues, hindering the budget’s potential to contribute positively to the economy.
  1. It is entrenched in a “traditional” mindset, as it fails to reflect any evolution in the government’s financial strategies, which have remained stagnant for decades.
  1. It lacks transparency, failing to provide citizens with information about revenue sources and collection methods.

In essence, this budget perpetuates the status quo and does not offer anything innovative or transformative for the economy.

 

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.

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