Damascus, SANA – The People’s Assembly on Wednesday referred the draft for the 2017 state general budget to the Balance and Accounts Committee.
Chairing the Assembly session, Speaker Hadiyeh Abbas called for setting up legislations to address tax evasion, combat corruption, curb squandering of public fund, and deal with the rising unemployment rates.
Addressing the Assembly members’ questions and queries, Finance Minister Ma’moun Hamdan said that the government is working hard to support the families of martyrs, and that raising wages and improving citizens’ living standards is the government’s biggest concern.
He said that in the 2017 budget, the government is providing to people with limited income more than just wages and compensations, as it allocated large sums for health, education, and utilities services that are provided at very low costs.
Hamdan explained that the drop in funding of investment projects is due to the conditions spawned by the crisis in Syria which affected the completion of projects and the turnover of funds allocated for them.
He also noted that the government cut down on some articles of administrative spending by around 30% in 2016, with the 2017 budget reducing administrative spending to the lowest possible sum.
The Minister said that a sum of SYP 50 billion is allocated on annual basis for reconstruction and repairs, and these sums go to citizens as compensations for the property they lost, adding that this sum isn’t enough for reconstruction in light of the massive losses to national economy, as this process requires huge budgets.
He went on to stress the importance of supporting the Agriculture and Industry Ministries in order to revitalize economy, with investment allocations for the agriculture sector totaling at SYP 25.3 billion.
Hamdan asserted that the Ministry is working to address the issue of tax evasion, in addition to working on computerized tax administration and billing systems.
At the start of the session, Speaker Abbas stressed that the tragic anniversary of Balfour Declaration that gave right to the Jews to establish a so-called “national homeland” on the land of Palestine is not built on any legal or ethical basis.
Abbas underlined the importance of unifying the ranks and facing all the colonial agendas which aim at undermining the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinian people and the steadfastness of the Syrian people, leadership and army.
R.J/H. Said / Hazem Sabbagh