Syria looks towards liberalization
Against the background of falling oil revenues and an ambitious five-year plan, Syria is taking its first steps towards a more liberal economy. Mohammed Al-Hussein, minister of finance, spoke to Euromoney about overhauling public expenditure, issuing treasury bills and bank ownership.
"We have recently completed a draft law on introducing a treasury bill and are now waiting for the IMF to read and consult the draft before we submit it to the cabinet"
The IMF recently released the preliminary conclusions of its latest Article IV consultation, which drew attention to the rapid decline in Syria’s oil revenues. Given the importance of this income to government finances, how is the ministry trying to counteract the downturn? This is an extremely important issue, given that over the past years oil revenues have been dropping quickly, with no new discoveries made. This has necessitated a number of changes in our policy, and in particular we have adopted three methods.
The first way has been to grant new rights to prospect for untapped sources of oil, and more than 20 new contracts have been signed. Although there have been no definite results yet, the outcome has so far been encouraging and we still hope to discover new reserves.
Second, we are redirecting public expenditure into more profitable and efficient areas.