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Syrian Law Journal @syrian_law
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President Bashar Al-Assad's government came to power in 2000 with a plan to begin liberalizing the Syrian economy. In September 2003, Naji Otri was appointed Prime Minister with a mandate to undertake economic reform after setbacks in Mustapha Miro's preceding government.
The economic reform program appeared to be in full swing in 2005 when non-Baathist Abdullah Dardari joined the government as Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs. Economic liberalization was underway when the social market economy was launched that same year.
By the time unrest gripped Syria in 2011, the economic reform program was still in its nascent years. While it had brought benefits, many segments of society had been detrimentally affected. Time was no longer on the government's side to pursue the economic reform program.
In the early years of the war, President Bashar Al-Assad admitted that there were shortcomings in the economic reform program. He continuously repeated the following points in speeches and interviews:
1) There needed to be further development of the public sector.

2) The government may have overlooked the benefits of undertaking smaller projects as opposed to big projects that spread resources thinly.
3) Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) needed to be encouraged since they form the backbone of any economy.

4) The government needed to pay more attention to Syria's rural and agricultural areas since a significant portion of the country's population work in farming.
Emphasis on support for rural & agricultural areas cannot be underestimated. The drought that set in 2006 forced farmers to migrate to the suburbs of cities, adding pressure there. For a Baath Party whose base includes the rural population, economic mismanagement was inexcusable.
By 2016, the government had done away with the social market economy and instead sought to complement the public sector by partnering up with the private sector to deliver public-private partnership (PPP) projects. The name of this new economy was National Partnership.
For President Bashar Al-Assad, economic reform was not the only issue on the agenda. Administrative reform was necessary and he alluded to this on several occasions. It would run in parallel with judicial reform. He also pointed out that the government should curb centralization.
In June 2017, President Bashar Al-Assad launched the National Administrative Reform Program (NARP). Developing the public sector means reforming it and e-government is just one tool to help achieve that. The British Syrian Society organized a conference on NARP in January 2018.
Two major pieces of legislation that will affect both the new economic program and efforts to curb centralization are the Public Private Partnership Law 5/2016 and the Urban Renewal Law 10/2018 respectively.
The Public-Private Partnership Law lays down the foundations for the National Partnership economy launched by the government in 2016 much like the Competition Law 7/2008 acted as a constitution for the social market economy launched in 2005.
The Urban Renewal Law grants local councils throughout Syria the authority to undertake urban redevelopment projects. The central government in Damascus will no longer be the main driver on major projects but rather local councils will take the lead - just as in Marota City.
With the launch of the National Administrative Reform Program or NARP, the government is set to issue a raft of new legislation to give effect to its objectives just like the 2000s witnessed the issuance of a variety of laws to help build the social market economy.
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