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Syrian President Assad Changes Economic Cabinet Posts, Sana Says

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made changes to his cabinet today, replacing the petroleum and finance ministers, as the country’s economy falters after almost two years of civil conflict.

Assad appointed Suleiman al-Abbas as the minister of petroleum and mineral resources and Ismael Ismael as finance minister, the official Syrian Arab News Agency said, citing a legislative decree. He also named ministers for housing and urban development, public works, agriculture, labor and social affairs, the news service said.

More than 60,000 people have died in the conflict that started in March 2011, according to the United Nations, that pits forces loyal to Assad against rebels who are seeking an end to the rule of his family. Production of foodstuffs including cereals, fruits and vegetables have dropped by as much as 50 percent, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Power rationing has worsened since the start of violence as fighting disrupts supplies and prevents repairs to damaged infrastructure. Fuel is also in short supply. Sugar consumption fell by as much as 40 percent during the past 12 months as the civil war shut down confectionery shops, T. Akhras Group Chairman Tarif Akhras said in an interview on Feb. 2.

A separate decree also established the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Labor, the Syrian Arab News Agency said. Security positions remained unchanged, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Glen Carey in Riyadh at gcarey8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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