Syria president announces $9bn budget for 2019

Syria’s president on Thursday announced a budget for 2019 of almost $9 billion. (SANA/Reuters)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Syria president announces $9bn budget for 2019

  • President Bashar Assad issued the budget after parliament passed the bill on Monday
  • The 2018 budget was of 3,187 billion pounds ($7.3 billion)

DAMASCUS: Syria’s president on Thursday announced a budget for 2019 of almost $9 billion, of which around a third has been allocated to investment projects including in areas ravaged by the war.
Seven years into Syria’s grinding civil war, the Damascus government has expelled rebels and extremists from large parts of the country with Russian military backing.
President Bashar Assad issued the budget after parliament passed the bill on Monday.
Next year’s budget would amount to 3,882 billion Syrian pounds ($8.9 billion, according to the official exchange rate), state news agency SANA said.
From that, 1,100 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) would be allocated to “investment,” SANA said.
Finance Minister Mamun Hamdan said 443 billion pounds ($1 billion) would go to “investment projects in liberated areas or to which the Syrian army brings back stability,” SANA quoted him as saying.
The minister also said that 700 billion Syrian pounds ($1.6 billion) would be spent on electricity projects, without mentioning in which areas, according to state television.
Hamdan told newspaper Al-Watan that the projected deficit for next year was 946 billion pounds (almost $2.2 billion).
The regime this year expelled rebels and extremists from the capital’s surroundings and the south of the country, bringing these areas back under its control.
It has also threatened to retake the northwestern region of Idlib on the Turkish border, but the area is for now protected by a shaky buffer zone deal struck in September between Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
The 2018 budget was of 3,187 billion pounds ($7.3 billion).
Syria’s war has killed 360,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.


Thousands of Algerians protest against Bouteflika’s re-election bid

Updated 33 min 10 sec ago
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Thousands of Algerians protest against Bouteflika’s re-election bid

ALGIERS: Thousands of young Algerians took to the streets of the capital on Friday to protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plans to seek a fifth term and police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
The 81-year old, in office since 1999, has said he will contest the April 18 presidential election, despite concerns over his health. He has been seen in public only a handful of times since suffering a stroke in 2013.
“No to Bouteflika and no to Said,” a crowed chanted while marching through the center of Algiers. The president’s youngest brother Said Bouteflika is a presidential adviser.
Reuters journalists filmed tear gas being fired over a crowd that ran to escape.
“We and the security are brothers,” some protesters chanted.
The protest came after mosque preachers had warned in Friday prayers against demonstrating, warning of violence.
Bouteflika’s re-election bid comes after the ruling FLN party picked him as its official presidential candidate. Several political parties, trade unions and business organizations have already said they would support his re-election.
He is expected to easily win the vote as the opposition remains weak and divided.
But many young people feel disconnected from an elite made up of veteran fighters from Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war with France.
His re-election would provide short-term stability for the FLN, the army and business tycoons, and postpone a potentially difficult succession.
Bouteflika remains popular with many Algerians, who credit him with ending a long civil war by offering an amnesty to former extremist fighters.
Algeria is a key gas supplier to Europe and an ally of the United States in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region of North Africa.