$560 million a year to reform Syria\'s public industry
Some $560 million are needed to reform the public sector of Syria's industry, which suffers from heavy bureaucracy, archaic laws and under-qualified labor, the official daily Tishrin said Sunday. An committee of 35 economic experts, including former ministers, industrialists and politicians, has been assigned the task of "reforming the Syrian economy," Tishrin said.
The newspaper, which pointed out the government will not be able to find $560 million on its own, said the experts committee had recommended "to cooperate with foreign companies." However, the newspaper reiterated the "economic reform will not involve privatization."
In an effort to make state companies more commercially viable, the Syrian cabinet announced last week it will remove state oversight of their operations, giving them administrative autonomy and limiting the role of the state to that of a shareholder.
According to economists, state companies suffer from bureaucracy and hidden unemployment, with a structure that weakens their flexibility and competitiveness, as well as laboring under a lack of liquidity.
State companies contribute between 35 and 50 percent of Syria's $17-billion gross domestic product. This variation depends on oil rates, oil exploitation managed by the state, and on farming production. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)