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An inadvertently frank assessment of the Syrian economy by the Finance Minster 25, September 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Syria.
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It can almost be a little embarrassing when someone, trying to impress or cover for something, produces a story so utterly inept, so poorly thought through and which ultimately clearly, concisely and almost devastatingly makes exactly the opposite point. There can surely be no greater example of this than the Syrian Minister of Finance, Dr. Mohammed al Hussein, and his recent article in Al Thawra describing why Syria is the country least affected by the recent financial troubles.

Rather than paraphrase it myself, I will leave that to Tariq Al Homayed, a writer for Al Sharq Al Aswsat, who quite beautifully skewers Dr Al Hussein’s comically awful article.

In the article, the minister said, “We can confirm that the Syrian economy, out of all the regional economies, has been least affected by this crisis.” He added, “The reason for this goes back to restricting the channels through which this crisis could pass to enter Syria…some of the best ways of which are through financial institutions, financial markets, investments, foreign currencies and foreign trade.”

Please pay attention to the minister’s explanation: “The Syrian financial market is yet to be born, and the financial institutions and banks are still in their infancy, the capital of which is mostly domestic and even if there is non-Syrian capital, in most cases the source is Arab.”

What the finance minister is trying to say, in simple terms, is that Syria has been saved from this international financial crisis because his country has no financial market and because of the regression of banks and financial institutions in Syria, as well as the lack of foreign investments. Any Arab investments are merely grants or accompanied by political motives.

Therefore, the finance minister is attributing his country’s escape from the international financial crisis not to the strength of the Syrian economy but to its deterioration and underdevelopment.

The question that should be put to His Excellency, the Syrian minister of finance, is: If you do not have a financial market or strong and dynamic banks and financial institutions, or foreign investments, then what need is there for a ministry of finance?

Thanks to Across the Bay for the pointing out this article.