By Adnan Abdulrazq
(Zaman Al Wasl)- Both Syrian and international reports confirm that Assad regime turned Syria to the tragedy of the century after GDP declined from 60 million dollars in 2010 to less than 27 million dollars’ end of 2016. The declared foreign debt increased more than 11 million dollars after the debt has been reset before the revolution according to the Arab Monetary Fund.
At the same time, the economic warfare losses increased to more than 275 million dollars according to Syrian official report. The percentage of poverty increased to more than 80% whereas unemployment increased to 70% according to Syrian experts.
-Losses and official indicators-
Official report released by General Federation of Labor Unions end of 2016 revealed that war losses exceeded those of the Second World War losses and came up to 275 million dollars.
The report based on the joint report by ESCWA and The Royal Institute of International Affairs indicated the decline in financial indicators and average economic growth to the degree of negative growth in some due to the decline in GDP during the past five years in more than 55%.
The Syrian Institute for Political Research had estimated previously the size of economic loss due to the war launched on the revolution in more than 254 million dollars since outbreak of revolution in March 2011 until end of 2015.
Observers consider that oil sector is the most damaged sector in Syria following ISIS seizure and Kurdish parties’ seizure of oil fields and productions sites in Syrian al-Jazira; al-Raqqa, Hasaka and Deir ez-Zor.
In the last press statement of Bashar al-Assad government, Minister of Oil Ali Ghanem during his meeting with MPs start of March confirmed that current oil production does not exceed 3000 barrels per day and they are produced in gas fields. He added that gas production is 6.6 million cubic meters per day and of household gas around 40 tons daily. Regarding phosphate, there is no production since the material is located in insecure areas.
He clarified that direct and indirect loss of oil sector since outbreak of the revolution are estimated to be 65 million dollars, pointing out that Syria needs between 5 million and 500 thousand to 6 million liters daily from diesel and 4 million 300 liters of benzene and 1300 tons of household gas per day and 6500 tons of fuel daily.
The sector turned form a sector that provides for the budget and production to a burden on Assad government that was manifested recently after Tehran stopped providing Syria with oil and Assad government permission for private sector to import oil and sell it in local market for the first time. Syria used to export around 140000 barrels per day before the revolution. The production in 2010 was around 380000 barrels’ raw oil per day. The oil was the main source for state treasury and budget revenues.
Perhaps Assad partners in war in Moscow and Tehran wanted to invest in oil and electricity fields which reveals the size of loss of these sectors. According to ministry of power in Assad government, 50 % of high tension lines in Syria are damaged.
A study released by the ministry confirmed that loss is estimated to be 800 billion SP which led the ministry to allocated investment budget resources estimated to be 50 billion SP in 2014 to reconstruct destroyed power stations.
-Loss in agriculture field-
This sector also was damaged by war and destruction. 25% of agriculture infrastructure was destroyed. Cultivated areas receded by more than 50% and agricultural production declined during the past 5 years in more than 50% for irrigated agriculture and more than 80% for rainfed agriculture. The damage in this sector by official statistics is estimated to be 360 million SP which equals 9.8% of the total cumulative loss of GDP during the crisis.
While the relative weight of the sector in the gross domestic production fell to about 14.2% at the end of 2015, due to the decline in productivity which is greater than other sectors.
The reasons why the sector deteriorated are the rise in production requirements perhaps first the doubling prices of seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and petroleum products. This as well as the destruction of infrastructure and many lands getting out of production in Syrian al-Jazira. Also the retracting control of Assad and even opposition of lands to ISIS and Kurdish organizations. These reasons contributed to turning Syria from a country that produces around 4 million tons of wheat to a country that imports agricultural products.
According to recent statement by Director of Plants Production in Ministry of agriculture Abdul Mueen Qadamani the last season was relatively good due to the rainfalls in some provinces but there are concerns regarding the current season if diesel was not available and if there were no rainfalls during the third week of
March especially for wheat which depends on irrigation.
He expected that the decline in production during this season is because of shortage in diesel material and insufficient rainfalls.
Director of Agricultural Affairs in Farmers Union Mohamed al-Khalif was more realistic in saying that shortage of diesel will lead to decline in production in around 45% because most irrigated areas in Syria are irrigated by general wells which function by diesel.
Syria’s agriculture exports receded during the war from 2.3 million tons in 2010 to 358 thousand tons in 2015. Assad even reached out to Russia to exchange wheat with some agricultural and industrial products.
The loss in agriculture field increased items prices which increased by 1200 % during the revolution to increase unemployment since agriculture is the one of the biggest sectors for worker’s employment.
-60-million-dollar loss in infrastructure-
A Syrian report prepared by Syrian researchers in Damascus that was released recently estimated the damage of infrastructure in Syria by war since 2011 until 2017 to be 60 million dollars.
The author of the report Mohamed Othman indicated that the biggest part of infrastructure in Syria is damaged in most Syrian cities particularly Aleppo. The damage ranged according to a report issued by World Bank between 3.7 billion dollars and 4.5 billion dollars’ end of 2014. He expected that at the end of 2016, the damage would reach 60 billion dollars.
International reports indicated that war in Syria destroyed around 1.7 million houses including partial and complete destruction and shortage of services. It needs more than 700 billion SP for reconstruction.
UN report said that around 5 million Syrians were forced to leave their houses due to destruction, but those millions were only in revolution cities and areas. In Aleppo, according to ESCWA, 424 thousand houses were destroyed. In Homs, more than 200000 thousand were destroyed. The regime bombings did not extend to regime-controlled areas in Tartus, Latakia on the Syrian coast.
Destruction of Tourism sector
The damage to the tourism sector was the biggest. The war totally put an end to this sector. Syrian ministry of tourism promoting campaigns did not change the scene following years of war.
Chief of Chamber of Tourism Abdulbari al-Shuayri revealed finally that tourism sector is still unable to function and the percentage of destroyed facilities in Damascus countryside is 90% since many touristic facilities were destroyed in the countryside.
Numbers of ministry of tourism indicate that loss in the tourism sector is estimated to be 330 Billion SP and 1200 touristic facilities are out of business. In addition to the damages to the human heritage due to destruction of UNESCO listed sites like Ibla and Aleppo and Palmyra. The total number of unemployed people who used to work in this sector before 2011 reached 258 thousand workers.
-Loss in industrial sector-
Numbers regarding damage to the industrial sector varied because of inability to reach destroyed facilities and estimate the size of damage done to the facilities and production lines. However, Minister of Industry in Assad government confirmed that damage in the industrial sector in Syria is estimated to be 1000 billion SP and the same for private sector. He indicated that there is more than 2000 factories out of service in the industrial city in Sheikh Najjar area in Aleppo and there are only 200 facilities in service there.
Chamber of Industry union mentioned in a report regarding damage to Syrian industry that Aleppo city ranked first in damage after 1962 facilities were damaged; 865 textile facilities, 404 engineering companies, 387 chemical and food companies, 12 medication manufacturing companies. The damage of facilities is estimated to be 238.9 billion SP.
Th number of damaged facilities in Damascus Chamber of Industry reached 321 facilities; 104 textiles, 97 chemical industry, 77 engineering and 35 food companies.
The decline of the value of SP indicated the decline in foregin money reserves in the Syrian Central Bank in Damascus. According to official statemnts, the reserve was around 10 billion dollars beginning of 2011 and declined to about 700 billion dollars end of 2015 according to a report by the World Bank. The reserve will disappear later as experts base that on receding support of the central bank to the SP via direct intervention and selling dollars as it was doing in the past years.
Syrian banking data in 2016 revealed the increase of total loss in the banking sector to exceed 143 billion SP.
Data revealed that direct damage distributed according to banks around 138 billion SP. The loss of state banks of money sums reached 2.5 billion SP in the Savings Bank, and Commercial Bank to 1 billion SP and Agriculture Bank to 3.458 billion SP, the Industrial Bank 145 billion SP, People Bank 235.2 billion SP and real estate bank 310.4 billion SP.
Assad government claimed big budgets are not accepted to be true even by regime supporters. Minister of Finance in Assad government Mamun Hamdan said the percentage of deficit in public budget for Syria reached 244% since 2011 until 2016, clarifying that Syrian economy suffered during the crisis a great recess in total economic indicators and decrease of performance in service and production sectors which affected the value of SP against foreign currency and led to great decline in income of public treasury and lowering standards of living.
Assad government celebrates and since three years that it admits the biggest budget in Syria’s history and the same thing was repeated few days ago when Damascus announced the biggest budget for 2017 with 2660 billion SP meaning an increase of 680 billions to the budget of 2016. It indicated that credits of project of the public budget for 2017 was estimated to be 2660 billion SP for 1980 billion in 2016. The percentage is increased to 34.34%.
But this disinformation, through the adoption of the budget in Syrian pounds, whose exchange rate falls against the dollar, from 50 liras in 2011 to more than 545 liras today, even pushed the parliamentarians of the regime, to refute the "lie".
Economists confirm that the draft budget is about $ 5 billion, which is low and modest compared to the 2011 appropriations of $ 17 billion, that is, the budget of 2011 more than three times, so the increase in the volume of expenditure as stated in the government statement of the budget is not true, 2017, a contraction of a financial deficit of LE 741.16 billion, which means that 27.88% of the total budget is funded by deficit.
Syria suffers from consecutive deficits in its general budget due to the decline in tax collection and the loss of oil export revenues. The deficit figures in the state budget in Syria widened from LL 432 billion in 2014 to more than 500 billion in 2015, according to the head of the budget and accounts committee of the People's Assembly Hussein Hassoun to about 621.73 billion for the year 2016.
-Losses that cannot be compensated-
Syrians who are being subjected to death and displacement remain the irreparable loss of in the light of the running after the "reconstruction" even of those so-called friends of the Syrian people. It is reported that about 2.96 million people lost their jobs during the war which means loss of the main source of income for 12.22 million people amid the expansion of the economy of violence and nearly half of the population leaving their homes.
Recent estimates indicate that out of every five people there are four poor, and nearly two-thirds of the population cannot meet their basic food and food requirements. The crisis in Syria has reduced the average life expectancy in Syria by 20 years.
Studies show that the continuation of the war for the sixth year in a row and the disintegration of the structure of the economy and social fabric led to the decline of the population of the country from 20.87 million in 2010 to about 17.65 million last year.
A report issued by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) predicts that the poor in Syria will reach 90% of the population this year. Not to mention the existence of about half a million martyrs, like those who are absent and detained, and hundreds of thousands of wounded, more than ten million displaced for their freedom, and the most serious of all is the disintegration of the social fabric and the decline of the education rate of a generation of Syrians and the psychological and spiritual devastation of millions of people which will remain hard to restore for years and generations to come.