Syrian Economic Expert: Stock Market and Private Banks are Hazardous - Part II
By Nabil Al Mulhem
Albawaba.com - Damascus
Nabil Marzouq, a prominent Syrian economist and top official at Syria’s Ministry of Planning believes that in the absence of basic monetary and banking laws, it is dangerous to license private banks or establish a stock market.
In the second part of an interview with Albawaba.com, Marzouq criticized the decision saying that the government has ignored the points of view of many, including parliament.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: What are the major views regarding economic reform?
A: The first group say that the 1986 plan should be resumed at a faster pace, because they think that the sluggish implementation of the reforms was the reason behind the negative outcome of the scheme. These people say that there should be more openness in the market, downsizing in the role of the state, meanwhile some of them call for privatization.
Q: Who represents this point of view?
A: They are individuals anyway. They do not represent a direction because not all of the private sector agrees with these ideas, especially small businessmen who think the approach is destructive to the Syrian economy and call for preserving the state’s role in the development process. However, those linked to foreign firms seek a reduction in the restrictions and taxes because this would provide them with bigger opportunities.
Q: You say they are individuals who have sociopolitical views, but in fact you are speaking about directions.
A: The people who support the liberal approach have their interests, but they are not a political party or a class. The other approach is more representative because they belong to institutions that are actually there in reality.
Q: Tell us more about the papers presented to the Baath regional command.
A: Echoing some views published in the media and discussed at seminars, there is a direction calling for a comprehensive economic reform which preserves the state’s role. This approach calls for defining the framework for the activities of each economic sector while guaranteeing pluralism. This is where the government can function.
This approach is not against the private or joint sector, but calls for defining the role and limits for each. To achieve this, all groups and experts should participate in decision-making.
Q: What was the scope of this participation when the decision was made to open the stock market and allow private banks to function?
A: What happened in fact was that the government submitted to parliament two draft laws: one covering the stock market, and the other private banks. Deputies rejected both unanimously, warning of the risks connected with the bills in the absence of the basic monetary law, a monetary council and an effective role for the central bank. The government has completely ignored the opposing viewpoints, including that of the People’s Assembly.
Q: Where are things heading?
A: The present government seems to be following in the footsteps of the previous one: it will disregard all the other proposals. Although it has provided greater freedom for people to express their opinions in the media and through dialogue, it has not taken these opinions seriously.
Q: Based on what happened regarding the private banks and the stock market, what’s the point of the national dialogue?
A: Participation does not mean only to express your opinion. Rather, it is participation in decision-making, and this has not been the case so far.