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Syriandays, Teshreen, SANA, Syriasteps, Syria-news on Thursday 18 September, 2008 

A workshop was held at the premises of the Syrian Council of Ministries on 17 September to launch the National Programme for the Informal Sector headed by Prof. Hernando de Soto from the International Liberty and Democracy (ILD) and winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Prof De Soto, who will be consultant to the Syrian government, has agreed to head the project to regulate Syria's informal economy which constitutes 40% of the economy.

"The workshop will launch the project for defining the Syrian informal sector, its aspects and elements in addition to framing the policies and strategic programmes to define the strengths and weaknesses of the sector", said Dr Abdulla al-Dardari, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs in his opening speech. He added that through the programme, De Soto will assist Syria in shifting millions of Syrian from severe poverty to above the poverty level by regulating the informal sector considering that economic development is measured through reducing poverty and unemployment. He pointed out that these aims come within the priorities of the Tenth Five-year plan.

"The third world is struggling to a great extent from the informal sector", said De Soto adding that developed countries have already overcome these struggles since the middle of the last century. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the existence of the informal sector means not knowing to what extent the private sector contributes to the GDP and therefore not having the tools and recourses to overcome the problems of the private sector such as unemployment, poverty etc.

The beginning of the programme will focus on conducting direct surveys to define the informal sector

The workshop outlined the supervisory structure of the programme with direct monitoring by an Economic Council from the Council of Ministries,  technical monitoring by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), councils from the Ministry of Local Administration and Environment and the State Planning Commission with the participation of the various ministries of the Syrian government to gather information and data.