Syria maintains spending in 2014 budget despite war losses


BEIRUT, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Syria's government has agreed a2014 budget of 1.39 trillion pounds ($8.18 billion), state newsagency SANA said on Saturday, a marginal increase on this year'sspending despite the economic devastation wrought by more thantwo years of civil war.

The agency gave no breakdown of spending, which it said was7 billion pounds higher than the 2013 budget, but it quotedPrime Minister Wael al-Halki as saying it would focus spendingon education, health and agriculture sectors.

Syria's 2-1/2 year civil war has ruined the country'seconomy, causing tens of billions of dollars of damage anddepriving it of crucial tourism and oil export revenues.

Figures released by the Central Bank showed its foreignreserves fell by more than a third in the first 10 monthsfollowing the outbreak of protests against President Basharal-Assad in March 2011.

But Syria has received extensive financial support from itsally Iran, including billions of dollars in credit facilities tobuy oil products, to help shore up its finances.

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