DAMASCUS, SANA_ Prime Minister al-Halqi stressed that the Syrian economy is strong with all its components including services, reserve of foreign currencies and gold and that the economic situation is stable despite the embargo and the US and European sanctions imposed on Syria.
In an interview with the Syrian TV broadcast on Thursday evening, al-Halqi said that Syria will remain steadfast as long as it enjoys economic, social and food security and depends on its national resources.
Al-Halqi reassured the Syrian people that food security is achieved despite the embargo since Syria is subjected to such embargo long time ago.
Al-Halqi refuted rumors on the deterioration of the Syrian Pound and the Central Bank of Syria as "untrue", saying that "Syria's reserve of Syrian currency exceeds SYP 600 billion and its reserves of foreign currencies are enough to survive for many years."
The Premier said that the Syrian Pound is stable and has preserved its stability for 18 months since September 2011 when the sanctions were imposed on the Syrian banks and the difficulty of exchange which has been overcome through linking the Syrian Pound with other currencies.
He added that the intervention of the Central Bank of Syria in selling and purchasing operations and allowing private banks and exchange offices to issue currency exchange rate bulletin by a margin of 1% contributed to the stability of the Syrian Pound.
The Premier stressed the stability of Syrian banks, indicating that the security situation necessitates the closure of some branch of the Syrian banks to protect them from looting and burglary.
He reviewed the series of the US and the European Union sanctions on Syria since the beginning of the crisis which started with banning oil exports and imports to reach the Syrian banks and banning the importation of maintenance spare parts which stepped up pressure on economy and caused the overall economic growth to slow.
Al-Halqi added that the armed terrorist groups which targeted the economic and services infrastructure in Syria starting with oil fields, pipelines and facilities, railways, transports and extended to attack factories, banks, serves and humanitarian institutions, the health sector and the educational and tourism facilities and all these acts affected the Syrian economy.
He said that the government is working on meeting the citizens' needs of diesel next winter as it will distribute 200 liters as a first stage to meet the heating needs.
Al-Halqi added that Syria needs 8 billion liters of fuel annually, adding that Syria produces 50 % and imports the rest 50% from other countries - in return for crude oil, clarifying that the Syrian government spent SYP 320 billion every year to meet diesel needs.
He said that the embargo and sanctions on banks and oil sector made it harder to fulfill the needs of oil derivatives, indicating that Syria has adapted to the new situation and found new outlets in cooperation with its friends all over the world.
The Premier said that Syria has strategic storage of domestic cooking gas, indicating that the problem lies in means of transporting and delivering it after the attacks and sabotage acts against railways.
Al-Halqi said that the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources transports gas through tankers and signed a contract to import 25 tankers for this purpose.
Premier al-Halqi stressed that heading to the east is not new as it started since 2005 though visits to Asian countries, countries of South America and Russia which resulted in joint investment projects and partnerships in several sectors such as energy and health, in addition to supporting Syria in international forums in the current crisis.
He expressed desire to boost relations with the east and the recent visits to Russia and Iran serve this purpose, stressing close relations with these countries to provide oil derivatives, strategic and necessary materials.
Al-Halqi said that Syria is facing a conspiracy hatched by western countries (the US and the European Union), regional countries, topped by Turkey and Arab countries (Qatar and Saudi Arabia).
He added this war can be described to be a global war with all its military, intelligence, political, economic and media components, the arms and financial support, the training and harboring gunmen, the fatwas allowing the killing and sabotage acts in violation of holy religions.
The Premier said that Syria is targeted for its support to the Arab national renaissance project against the Zionist-US-western project and for being a key state in the axis of the resistance, adding that Syria is punished for its national stances and the victory achieved in Lebanon and Gaza.
Al-Halqi stressed that the battle against Syria reached to the end thanks to the steadfastness of its people and the achievements of the Syrian army in the face of the armed terrorist groups.
He said that Syria is going ahead with the reconciliation project launched by the Ministry of National Reconciliation which exerts great efforts to help the return of security and stability and building the renewed Syria.
Al-Halqi said Syria dealt with the external part of the crisis based on the principle of national sovereignty and attaining the Syrian people's interests, adding that Syria was open to all initiatives since the very beginning and provided all facilitations unlike the western countries which hindered these initiative and led them to a dead point as they want none of them to success.
Premier al-Halqi said that Syria welcomes the UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and we are optimistic to reach a solution despite rumors about the difficulty and the impossibility of his mission since they want no good for him or any initiatives that fulfill the Syrian people's aspirations to end violence and engage into a political process that help a democratic and peaceful solution.
He said Brahimi's mission is a completion of Annan's six-point plan and the most important point in dealing and dialogue with Brahimi is the principle of national sovereignty, adding that "we will not allow any foreign intervention in the Syrian affair under any pretext. We will be positive and objective in dealing with Brahimi as long as he holds the same ideas."
Al-Halqi said that Syria will ask Brahimi to call upon countries which support terrorism in Syria, particularly the neighboring countries, on top of them Turkey and the Arab countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia to stop providing arms and financial support, in addition to the US and western countries since no initiative will succeed if foreign intervention in Syria continued.
He said that there are armed groups fighting against the Syrian government and they are extremist, jihadist and takfiri groups, some of which are linked to al-Qaeda.
Premier al-Halqi said several initiatives were proposed before the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran such as the Egyptian, the Iraqi or the Troika initiatives but all of them have not matured till now, indicating that a recent meeting by senior officials of the foreign ministries of 4 countries was held in Cairo to discuss the Egyptian initiative but its features have not been crystallized yet.
He said that a conference for national opposition was scheduled to be held this week but it has been postponed to an unspecified date due to some differences between the opposition forces, adding that "We, as government, support all what would help sit down to dialogue and reach a peaceful settlement.
Al-Halqi added that the problems of families who were forced to leave due to the terrorist acts are a priority for the government which formed a special ministerial committee to estimate the damage caused to private sector and provide shelter to the affected families, adding that there are sub-committees established throughout the Syrian provinces for the same purpose.
He said that there are more than 840 center for damaged families and the government spares no effort to meet their needs of water, electricity, food and health care.
Al-Halqi stressed the government's efforts to rehabilitate damaged infrastructure before calling upon citizens to return, in addition to giving advanced payment to the affected families and forming a committee to compensate the damaged.
Al-Halqi called upon families who left to the neighboring countries to return to Syria.
He stressed the importance of enhancing confidence between the citizens and the government through calling upon those who carry arms to put it aside and engage into society.
He stressed that Syria will go on to restore security and stability to every part of Syria and hold those who threatened its security accountable in line with its efforts to achieve national reconciliation and its belief in that the solution should be political through national dialogue.
R. Raslan / Ghossoun