DAMASCUS, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- After 18 months of unrest, the Syrian government says its economy is still rock-hard though admitting its dismal performance over the past years.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki said in an interview aired late Thursday by the state-run TV that the Syrian economy is still "balanced," while other Syrian officials promised that new economic measures are coming to correct previous bad performance.
Economists said the protracted crisis has affected all kinds of business and that the country is stuck in an actual doldrums, pleading on the government to enhance its performance and modernize current economic policies.
Recently, unemployment continues to nudge up, with inflation rate above 30 percent and sales slumped.
Recent financial data predicted that the Syrian foreign debt will amount to 11.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, an increase of about 1.2 percent from last year.
The data, based on the International Monetary Fund's information, said that the Syrian foreign debt was 9 billion dollars in 2010 and 9.9 billion dollars in 2011.
The real growth rate of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to data recently released by an Arab institution, was negative by 2 percent in 2011, but it noted that there are indications that it will be positive by 1.5 percent in 2012.
However, the Syrian prime minister said that regardless of the world pressure and economic sanctions, the economic performance can remain satisfactory no matter how long the crisis might last.
He assured Syrians that the Syrian pound is still stable and has been trading at around 70 against the dollar for more than three months owing to the Central Bank of Syria's positive interference, adding that most of the financial difficulties have been overcome by pegging the pound to other currencies.
Halki stressed that Syria has a stockpile of Syrian pounds that exceed 600 billion.
Still, economists believe that the central bank may need to bolster stimulus as the economy faces a deeper-than-expected slowdown.
The country's Deputy Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, Abdul Salam Ali, said in a recent statement that the current circumstances in Syria require a thorough review of all economic decisions pertaining to import and export procedures that are needed by local markets.
Ali added that the ministry is seriously studying ways of facilitating import procedures in light of the new orientations to ensure the market needs from the products of eastern countries, especially China, Russia, India and Iran.
He said that the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade reconsiders the negative list issued over the past few years when the government had tried to open markets and achieve an economic overture.
He added that this openness led to a clear imbalance in the market and negatively affected the citizen and the national economy alike.
He pointed out that the new import and export procedures would be for the mutual benefit of both the traders and the national economy.
The government said that its top priority now is to find a real balance between wages and consumption expenditures, particularly for low-income people and the laboring class.
It indicates that it would reconsider its tax, financial and monetary policies and tighten controls on monopoly, streamline production, stimulate production and activate the role of the public sector in all fields and redistribute national income.