DAMASCUS - The Syrian government has announced a 250 million dollar aid plan to help 420,000 impoverished families, state media reported on Monday.
"It's one of the mechanisms put in place by the government to aid impoverished families," Diala Haj-Aref, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, told the press, referring to a presidential decree issued on Thursday.
The minister said the aid will consist of cash loans to be distributed in February. Poverty afflicts 14 percent of 22 million Syrians, according to deputy prime minister of economic affairs Abdallah Dardari.
Dardari said Syria, which is heading towards a market economy, suffers from "considerable deficits" linked to poverty as well as the unemployment of a fifth of its economically active population.
The Syrian government has also announced plans to invest 14 billion dollars in development as part of a five-year plan (2011-2015).