Syrian state industry expected to lose $1.6 billion this year
Syria's state industries expect losses of 75 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) this year, according to the government daily Tishrin. The paper said the figure features in the government's budget plans for 2001, which were approved in December.
Heading the list of loss-making industries are the oil refineries at Homs in central Syria and Banias to the west, whose expected losses are estimated at 38.4 billion pounds ($825 million), the paper said.
Other big expected losses include the state flour-milling company at 27.1 billion pounds ($582 million), the cotton industry at 4.5 billion ($96 million), sugar at 2.5 billion ($53 million) and textiles at 1.9 billion pounds ($40 million), it added.
Among the reasons cited by the paper for these losses is the fact that these businesses are selling for less than the cost of production because of government social policy, taxes on imports, and excessive manpower.
According to Tishrin, government reform of state industry will allow for technical and administrative restructuring of those industries running at a loss but potentially viable, and the shutdown of those which cannot hope to become profitable.
The ruling Baath party daily, al-Baath, Monday cited the example of a state paper mill built in 1981 at a cost of $115 million, which has never gone into production.
The authorities plan to give an Austrian company a contract to develop and run the mill for a period of seven years in return for revamping its infrastructure, the paper said.
Tishrin said Sunday the overhaul of state industry would require $5.6 billion over a period of 10 years.
The Syrian government decided this month to make its state industries comply with the norms of commercial viability, to give them economic, financial and administrative independence, and to reduce the state's role to that of shareholder.
However, the government has ruled out privatization, considering it a direct threat to employment. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)