DAMASCUS, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Amid constant confirmations by the Syrian government that it is still able to withstand the economic crunch thanks to its self-reliance policy, new financial figures showed that the government is in a trouble that is cumulatively damaging its economy.
An economic report released Monday by the pro-government al- Watan newspaper said that the country's oil sector has been unable, till the end of July, to repay its incremental financial burdens in foreign currencies.
At the same time, the report pointed out that the oil sector's debt to the Central Bank of Syria has risen to about 233 million U. S. dollars in July.
Last September, the European Union slapped a partial ban on the country's oil exports as part of a bid to intensify pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The sanctions were later reinforced to include several governmental oil trade and oil-field discovery entities, forcing major energy companies to close their operations in Syria.
The 18-month-old crisis has tightened the screw on the country' s economy and caused widespread fuel shortages. Supplies of diesel and cooking gas were running short because of the sanctions.
The government has recently raised the price of a liter of diesel again and the prices of cooking gas have also more than doubled.
There have been repetitive calls by government officials in recent weeks to conserve fuel and to use other energy sources, like electricity, whenever possible.
The Syrian oil minister unveiled that the losses of the oil sector in Syria have exceeded 3 billion dollars since the start of the sanctions.
Recent financial data predicted that the Syrian foreign debt will amount to 11.1 billion dollars in 2012, an increase from last year of about 1.2 percent.
The data, based on the International Monetary Fund's information, said that the Syrian foreign debt was 8.3 billion dollars in 2009, and rose in 2010 to reach 9 billion dollars and then to 9.9 billion dollars in 2011.
The figure suggests that the government's policy of self- sufficiency is no more workable as its oil and tourism sectors, the main lifelines of the country, are suffocating.
The government is also facing another overwhelming burden; the reconstruction of damaged areas that, according to recent unofficial assessment, would cost the government more than 45 billion dollars.
This sum goes beyond the potentials of the Syrian government that faces internal and external pressures.
Ammar Yousef, a researcher at the real estate affairs, said that Syria might need more than this figure had the crisis dragged on for longer time.
He indicated that the government ought to rehabilitate the infrastructure and bring matters back to what they were before the crisis.
Youssef disclosed that there are around 300,000 houses in Syria that have been totally damaged by terrorist acts, and more than 250,000 houses have been partially damaged.