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What's the Point of a Finance Ministry? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Syrian Minister of Finance, Doctor Mohammed al Hussein, wrote an article for the Syrian Al Thawra Newspaper entitled, ‘Syria: The Country Least Affected by the Financial Crisis…The Reasons Lie in its own Capitalism,’ in order to reassure citizens and investors that Syria is the state least affected by the financial crisis and if only he didn’t write!

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. So according to the minister’s logic, we should also congratulate the Somali economy for escaping the international economic upheaval!

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? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to entrust matters to the ministry of commerce to do everything itself?

The Syrian minister of finance did not stop there; he went on to express his concern for the state of the Arab market, the oil market in particular, as he expressed his concern about the revenues that have been gained as a result of the increase in oil prices. He noted the example of the losses incurred by the UAE markets. For that reason he called for Arab countries to invest in the Arab world rather than the West and of course, here he means investing in Syria.

The peculiarities of the article did not stop there; the finance minister derided US government intervention that aimed to salvage the American market and then in no time, he concluded the article saying, “We want to reassure our people, our businessmen and our investors that the effects of this universal financial crisis upon the Syrian economy will be very limited…by the virtue of the observed economic policies and the method of gradual economic reform and our emphasis upon the active and important role of the state in safeguarding the economy and the interests of the people whether they are rich or poor.”

There is nothing left to say except may God make matters easier for people in our part of the world!