As the government plans to deal with the financial crisis, the price of bread in this war-torn country has doubled, and the price of diesel has almost tripled.
The Syrian government announced a substantial increase in the price of bread and fuel in response to the financial crisis, causing more suffering to civilians in this Middle Eastern country that has been tortured by more than a decade of devastating war.
According to the Syrian official news agency, the price of bread doubled on Sunday and the price of diesel almost tripled as the new price took effect on Sunday in areas controlled by the Syrian government due to the prolonged economic crisis.
The decision was made a few days after Damascus announced a 25% increase in gasoline prices.
In recent years, President Bashar al-Assad’s government has repeatedly raised fuel prices in response to the financial crisis triggered by the war, which has been intensified by a series of sanctions imposed by the West.
“All of this is expected, and now we are worried…the prices of food and medicine will rise further,” Wilhammoud, a 41-year-old Damascus resident, told AFP. He waited more than 30 minutes before calling for a car. The taxi took him to work.
The price increase coincided with a decree issued by President Assad on Sunday, which raised the wages in the public sector by 50% and set the minimum wage at 71,515 Syrian pounds per month (at 28 U.S. dollars at the official exchange rate). At 47,000 pounds (18 U.S. dollars).
According to SANA, in the second decree, Assad increased pensions for the public sector and military personnel by 40%.
The price list released by the National News Agency on Saturday night showed that the price of a liter of diesel is now 500 pounds, which is higher than the 180 pounds previously paid by most industry users.
Mustafa Hasvija, of the state-run Syrian petroleum product storage and distribution company, said that 80% of Syria’s hydrocarbon demand is purchased from abroad in foreign currencies.
“It is necessary to raise prices to reduce import costs,” SANA quoted him as saying.
The price of subsidized bread doubled to 200 Syrian pounds. According to SANA, the state-run Syrian Bakery Foundation stated that the increase in diesel prices led to the increase in prices.
Diesel fuel in Syria is used to power vehicles and private generators, which operate for up to 20 hours a day in certain areas to supplement the fragile power grid that is blocked by fuel shortages.
The pro-government Al-Watan Daily said on Sunday that the increase in diesel fuel will cause “intra-provincial and inter-provincial transport prices to rise” by more than 26%. It pointed out that production costs in the agricultural and industrial sectors will also rise.
According to Al-Watan, the cost of heating houses will also rise by 178%.
A Damascus economist who asked not to be named said that as the crisis deepens, the government will continue to increase prices.
“As long as there is no capital going into the treasury, prices will continue to rise,” he said.
The recent price increase comes nearly two weeks after the Lebanese government, which has been hit by the crisis in its neighbouring country, raised fuel prices by more than 35% in response to a shortage of smuggling into Syria attributed in part by local authorities.
The supply of basic services and commodities in Syria has been hit hard by the country’s war, which began in 2011 when the government suppressed protests.
In northwestern Syria controlled by the rebels, neighboring Turkey — the main supporter of the rebels there — tried to fill the gap, build flour mills and provide electricity.