Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: Sana / Handout via Reuters

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday announced a national budget for 2019 of almost $9 billion, of which around a third has been allocated to investment projects including in areas that have been devastated by the war.

Seven years into Syria’s grinding civil war, the Damascus regime has succeeded in driving rebels and jihadists out of large parts of the country with Russian military backing.

Assad issued the budget after the 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 reported.

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 2018 budget was 3,187 billion pounds ($7.3 billion).

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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