DAMASCUS — Syria’s President on Thursday announced a budget for 2019 of almost US$9 billion, of which around a third has been allocated to investment projects including in areas ravaged by the war.
Seven years into Syria’s grinding civil war, the Damascus Government has expelled rebels and jihadists from large parts of the country with Russian military backing.
President Bashar al-Assad issued the budget after the parliament passed the bill on Monday.
Next year’s budget would amount to 3,882 billion Syrian pounds ($8.9 billion, according to the official exchange rate), state news agency SANA said.
From that, 1,100 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) would be allocated to "investment", SANA said.
Finance Minister Mamun Hamdan said 443 billion pounds ($1 billion) would go to "investment projects in liberated areas or to which the Syrian army brings back stability", SANA quoted him as saying.
The minister also said that 700 billion Syrian pounds ($1.6 billion) would be spent on electricity projects, without mentioning in which areas, according to state television.
Hamdan told newspaper Al-Watan that the projected deficit for next year was 946 billion pounds (almost $2.2 billion).
The regime this year expelled rebels and jihadists from the capital’s surroundings and the south of the country, bringing these areas back under its control.
It has also threatened to retake the northwestern region of Idlib on the Turkish border, but the area is for now protected by a shaky buffer zone deal struck in September between Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
The 2018 budget was of 3,187 billion pounds ($7.3 billion).
Syria’s war has killed 360,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests. — AFP