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President Bashar al-Assad presided over on Wednesday April the 18th 2012 the Higher Council of Local Administration which was established under the Local Administration Law issued in August 2011.
President al-Assad underlined the importance of the Council since the most important development steps take place through local administration, being the link between citizens and the state, noting that this relation was weak for various reasons but communication has become a reality through legislations and must be put into practice.
He said that the majority of issues and suggestions now go through local administration which must have an active role in them, pointing out that the Higher Council’s importance lies in finding coordination mechanisms which are currently weak, devising mechanisms for exchanging expertise among governorates or municipalities, and the participation of citizens who might feel that the government is distant from them.
“Ambitions must be linked to reality, and solutions must be based on specific priorities beginning from the moiré pressing issues which are specified by citizens,” the President said.
President al-Assad underscored the role of the Council and the local administration in qualifying cadres and moving to the administrative decentralization, which should reduce government burdens and transfer some of them to local administration.
He stressed that success in decentralization and thus ensuring the success of local administration requires resolving preexisting hindrances, adding that there is confusion between what is central and what is local, but the Council will establish committees to coordinate between ministries and governors.
President al-Assad underlined the role of local administration in urban and regional planning, environment preservation and addressing random houses in practical and studied ways, with emphasis on coordination and giving more authority to municipalities in terms of regional planning.
“Studies for any project must not begin before guaranteeing its funding, because studies are costly,” he said, noting that the issue of the halting of projects for bureaucratic reasons must also be dealt with.
President al-Assad said that the issue of random housing is strategic in all aspects and must be resolved through a vision, even if it’s a long-term one.
The President pointed out that providing income is the biggest problem for local administration, stressing the need to take a developmental direction and seek resources, saying that nothing prevents local administration from being flexible and free in taking economic decision like the private sector, which would create resources and job opportunities.
President al-Assad requested that transparency be adopted through propagating the plans of the local administration and municipalities to fight corruption and engage the citizens, allowing them to pose their opinions and suggestions.
President al-Assad underlined necessity of enhancing connections between the state and society through increasing the citizens’ participation and finding practical solutions to problems, calling upon the officials to get a closer look at the issues of interest to the citizens.
The president also called for according enough care to the countryside development and avoiding neglecting it to focus on cities, in addition to establishing balance between areas in single cities and justice in the distribution of services among richer and poorer areas.
“At this stage, we must focus more on areas that are poor and deprived of services such as infrastructure, water, electricity, roads, gardens and more,” he said.
President al-Assad reviewed the importance of the service centers as to save the citizens’ efforts, reduce expenses, and combat corruption and bribery, said that what6 was applied in these centers can be copied in other establishments affiliated to ministries.
President al-Assad stressed the significance of industrial cities and marketing them properly, market their products.
President al-Assad considered that one of the Council ‘s important missions is to find a mechanism for coordination among state institutions and benefitting from the successful experiences of some institutions and municipalities, as well as the experiences of other countries in local administration.