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Damascus, July 23, 2012 - People's Assembly Continues Discussions of the Government's Statement

During a session chaired by Speaker Mohammad Jihad al-Lahham on Monday, the People's Assembly continued its discussions of the government's statement for upcoming stage, with Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, his deputies and most ministers.

The interpositions of the People's Assembly members focused on providing citizens' necessities and needs, combating terrorism, preserving security and safety, expediting national reconciliation, and healing wounds and closing rifts.

The members called for adopting a national strategy and working together to build a modern and strong Syria, with emphasis on earning citizens' trust and relying on them to gauge the performance of each ministry.

They also called for giving attention to the public service by preserving it, reforming it and developing as it forms the basis of economic and social development.

The members stressed the need for basic executive mechanism for the government's program, noting that the security situation requires that the government revaluate its priorities.

They called for reconsidering the law on combating corruption and holding the corrupt accountable, creating a realistic economic model that achieves social justice, improving work in the judicial system, focusing on the horizontal expansion of universities, improving the standards of private universities, combating squandering, adopting new standards for university admission, and achieving balanced governmental spending between cities and the countryside.

The members also called for monitoring private banks to protect exchange rates, linking facilitations provided to the private sector with the job opportunities and training it provides, resolving shortages in gas and fuel, combating profiteering and those who exploit the crisis for financial gains, preserving Syria's cultural identity, reforming the tax system, lowering communication fees, recovering the funds that were smuggled out of the country, compensating people affected by the events and returning displaced citizens to their areas.

They warned that adopting a policy of austerity can exacerbate the crisis as it would lead to inflation, rising unemployment and debts, weakening the economy and banks, and causing capitols to leave the country.

They touched on several issues related to agriculture, irrigation, health, investment, retirement, combating illicit gains,  education, tourism, housing, guiding governmental spending, supporting and protecting farmers, decentralization, and bridging the gap between citizens and officials.

The members also stressed the need to confront the plot against Syria and cleansing Syria of terrorists, underlining the need to ensure the success of national reconciliation and stopping bloodshed, noting that the elements that helped maintain the crisis such as unemployment, poverty must be dealt with.

Some members also called for Syria to leave the Arab League and considering the organization's decisions irrelevant due to its blatant conspiring, support of terrorists, and use of channels to antagonize Syria.

The members underlined the role of the People's Assembly in monitoring the government's work and evaluating it, saying that those who act with negligence must be held accountable and be given votes of no confidence.

For his part, Speaker al-Lahham said that it's up to the cabinet to consider the ministerial statement a work plan or not, noting that presenting the statement to the Assembly is a constitutional step, and that if the Assembly members as a whole are against an item in the statement or vote against it, then only that item should be considered rather than the entire statement, adding that most discussions supported the statement and called for enriching it.

In response to the discussions and interpositions, Prime Minister Hijab said that the statement was presented within the specified timeframe as per the constitution, and that the government was careful to make sure that the statement can actually be implemented word for word.

He suggested that each ministry should present its plan separately to the Assembly to give the members time to discuss them sufficiently, calling for the first ministry to do so to be the National Reconciliation Ministry since the government's primary concern is ending bloodshed and violence.

Hijab said that state of services and economy is a priority of each Cabinet meeting and every step it takes, adding that all ministers have been committed to field work since their first week in office.

He also said that another priority is revaluating all aspect of administrative works, beginning with governors and moving on to assistant ministers, stressing that all steps taken in this regard will be removed from courtesies and personal considerations.

Hijab also underlined stapes already taken to combat corruption, dealing with the shortage of gas, providing fertilizers to farmers, providing work opportunities, noting that the government isn't against raising wages, but the current resources don't permit this, affirming that the government's work focuses on helping the working classes.

The session, which lasted for more than five hours, was adjourned until 11 AM on Tuesday.

H. Sabbagh

http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2012/07/23/433009.htm

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