Syrian minister of state for planning, Issam Al-Zaim, declared that the country’s total debt due to Arab and foreign governments and funds stood at $3.384 billion in the first half of this year. He added that this year’s budget allocated around 27 billion Syrian pounds ($586 million) to service foreign loans.
The debts handled by the planning ministry do not include loans to the World Bank that are handled by the finance ministry and now total around $145 million after the settlement of a $526.4 million arrears problem in 1997.The debts mentioned also exclude $12 million in debts to Russia.
The minister said the debt problem was not tackled for several years but the new government started to deal with the problem to settle and reschedule all existing debts.
Additionally, Zaim revealed that Syria settled its debt with Germany in November by writing off a portion of the loan while another part was diverted to cover social and environmental projects in Syria. According to the debt rescheduling agreement, Syria will repay $572 million in installments over a 20-year period in addition to a five-year grace period. Similar agreements were reached with France, Italy and Belgium with the settlement of smaller amounts of debts.
The settlement of debts with Germany had paved the way for the European Investment Bank, the private sector arm of the European Union, to resume its loans to Syria after nearly a 10-year suspension caused by the German debts. — ( Lebanon Invest )