Nisreen Zureik wrote in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, ” Land for Debt”, that exaggerative term was used by many “missionaries” as a possible way for the Syrian state to solve its problems of public debt that “recorded astronomical numbers” according to those allegations. But the phrase was abruptly withdrawn, or almost withdrawn, after the World Bank published its International Debt Statistics 2018.
The report revealed that the size of the Syrian public debt is only $ 3.5 billion, and only $ 195 per capita.
(The United Nations estimates that the population of Syria is about 18,283,000 people, while the Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that the number is 24,422,000 people, reducing the per capita public debt to only $ 144).
In both cases, the figure represents a real disappointment for anyone betting on Syria being flooded with debt and being Fiscal deficit.
To estimate the size of the public debt risk, economists measure the ratio of this debt to GDP on the one hand, and the per capita share on the other. Before the war, the Syrian economy had a diverse GDP, estimated at $ 60 billion a year, with a leading growth rate of 5 percent, and a global positive forecast of $ 79 billion a year till the war was waged on Syria.
The war produced a GDP loss of $ 169 billion, added as a base figure in the war losses estimates of the Syrian economy by a austerity strategy that successive governments saw as a solution. Zureik also wrote: In addition to the deficit and fragile financing for reconstruction, the size of the public debt is acceptable and repayable.
Syria is very far away from the Bloomberg credit rating report, which has identified the countries most at risk of defaulting on debt. According to the report, Lebanon is at the top of the Middle East with 154% debt bloc of the GDP.
Followed by Egypt with a debt bloc of $ 203 billion, then Bahrain and Turkey. Syria’s economic growth forecast for 2018 and 2019 was 3 percent, a good percentage for a country where the war has not yet ended, especially in relation to negative ratios recorded in the long war years (the most severe recorded in 2012).